Should You Build a Classroom Library?
You might wonder in this time where everything is digital if having a classroom library is actually necessary and it turns out that it is. Children spend so much time in front of media devices that it is easy to forget what is truly important in school. According to Hilliard City Schools, “A very valuable tool that teachers cannot forget about is the classroom library. The classroom library sends the message to students about what will be valued in a classroom.”
While it is more efficient to set up the library before the students arrive, waiting until they arrive can help to create ownership of the books. Let them help you label and categorize them, ask if there are types of books they would like to have more of, and finish the library organization with a small celebration with snacks and a read-aloud book.
The well-planned library should include:
- A system that the students understand when they want to find a book.
- A variety of genres and levels of books.
- Some book series to teach the pleasure of anticipating reading more about a character or event.
- New releases to introduce current authors.
- Engaging books that might be more challenging.
- Give students a chance to pick their favorites for display on the “My Favorites” shelf.
A study cited by Scholastic found that when quality libraries were part of a classroom, the amount of time spent reading more than doubled, literacy activities per hour increased by half, and letter recognition, phonemic awareness, and narrative competence increased.
Types of books to include are:
- Informational books—as you get to know your students, add in informational books that appeal to their interests.
- Multicultural books.
- Historical fiction—Historical fiction is an excellent way to introduce different time periods to students.
- Folk tales, myths, and legends.
- Biographies and Autobiographies—Again, when you learn who interests your students, make those types of books available to them.
- Realistic fiction—those stories that could happen in real life.
- Audiobooks—many reluctant readers will listen to books.
Studies have shown that a comfortable area for reading, a library that is set apart from the rest of the classroom, and 20 minutes of designated reading time each day promote more engagement with reading books.
Encouraging the Reluctant Reader
We all have those students who are reluctant to read independently and sometimes we have a lot of them. Here are some strategies to tempt them to read:
- Read a story aloud to the class, maybe for multiple days, but don’t finish it. Tell the students that they must read it themselves to find out the ending.
- Get them hooked on a series in the same way as not reading the ending by reading the first book aloud and having the rest of the series available.
- Provide time during the week for students to give book talks on their favorite book.
- Read along with them and share the chuckles, gasps, and anticipation of the story.
The classroom library encourages a literacy-rich environment and cycling new books through means that your students won’t always walk back to the library and see the same old thing.