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Tips for Enlarging Your Class Library

What follows are suggestions for finding books for your class library.
  • Join a Scholastic Book Club and use bonus points to order free books.
  • Ask parents to contribute books their children no longer use.
  • Visit yard and library sales and purchase books, which are often priced below a dollar each.
  • Apply for a grant that gives funds toward books for school.
  • Ask your principal for funds; you never know when there are extra dollars available.
  • Invite your school's PTA to run a fundraiser for classroom libraries.
Please share what you do to enlarge your class library collections. When students have access to inviting and enjoyable books, reading can become a free choice experience that they repeatedly turn to.
Laura Robb

Organizing Your Classroom Library

It's that time again: preparing your classroom, unpacking boxes of books, notebook paper, and students' journals, and of course, attending faculty meetings. I'm also hoping that you've been collecting books for your classroom library, as access to books is crucial for developing readers from K to 12. My eighth graders tell me that they love "having books at their fingertips." I couldn't agree more. Here are some tips for using your library to showcase books and advertise to students that reading is great fun!
  • Organize books on your shelves by genre because that's the way students shop for books: fantasy, suspense, adventure, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography and autobiography, science fiction, informational texts, graphic novels, magazines, newspapers, short stories, folk tales, etc. Tape an index card printed with the name of the genre onto the appropriate bookshelf.
  • On each shelf, place one or two books with the cover facing out so students see the inviting illustrations and titles. Change these featured books each month and call students' attention to the changes.
  • Feature a genre or author every six weeks. Place these books on your desk, on windowsills, on the chalkboard tray, and book talk one each day. A book talk can simply be reading the first two pages, or sharing the back cover matter with students. You don't have to read every book you add to your library. Challenge students to go on the author's web site and share information with the class.
  • Have a sign-out notebook for students to complete: students write the title and their name when they check out a book. Students cross out the title when the book has been returned to its shelf or the specific place you've designated for returned books. Older students can put books back according to genre. It’s your choice, but I'm always looking for ways to save my time.
Classroom libraries mean your students can check out books any day; they don't have to wait for their scheduled library period.
Laura Robb

Reading YA Books

I've challenged myself to read one young adult novel and three picture books a week during May and June—July and August are for adult books I want to read! My motivation has increased one hundred fold because the first two YA books I finished were just fabulous. The first, by the McKissacks, is THE CLONE CODE (Scholastic, 2010), which parallels slavery, the Underground Railroad, and the yearning for freedom during the Civil War with a futuristic society where clones and cyborgs do not have any rights and sit far below "firsts," human beings. This book will make an exciting read-aloud and is a must-have addition to school and class libraries.
The second YA book I've completed is THE DREAMER by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic, 2010), illustrated by Peter Sis. A fictionalized story of the childhood of the poet Pablo Neruda, the book itself is poetry in words and illustrations. The story has entered my dreams and my daytime thoughts because of its haunting and simple beauty. Don't miss it.
Now, please share some of your favorite new YA books so we can all benefit from one another's reading.
Laura Robb

The Number of Books in Classroom Libraries

Recently, at a workshop in New York, a literacy coach asked me how many books were ideal for middle school classroom libraries. My answer was 800 to 1000 books on diverse topics, with a range of genres and reading levels. Her district is applying for a grant as well as releasing money for building libraries.
Let me and other teachers know how you stock your classroom libraries. In these tight times, we need all the creative suggestions we can gather.
Laura Robb

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Laura Robb Blog are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.