(Take the total minus 26, the letters in the alphabet)
Just the other day I tweeted that my current book count was 563 (Now it is 564, got a new book the other day). That’s not my TBR list or my Read list-no that is the number of books I own, give or take a few. I’ve been dreaming of a classroom library since I decided in 7th grade that I was going to be an English teacher when I grow up. I already have some ideas of my check out system and I definitely know I will be reading aloud to my students everyday because it has proven to help with literacy and cultivate a love of reading in students. I loved it when my English teachers read books to the class because we then discussed the book as a class. It was like my classroom was a book club that got to meet everyday.
I am not sure how I want to organize my books because that has been constantly changing. When I was a kid, not a teen, I organized them according to author because I am a little OCD. When I was a teenager I continued to organize according to author but my two (sadly only two) bookshelves were divided into classic and contemporary. Of course I naturally ran out of shelf space and my floor became home to many of my books. When I got into college I decided there needed to be a change. I created an excel document in which I keep track of the books I own by author, publication company, publication date, hardback/paperback and any other interesting information, e.g. Newberry, family book, library discard, missing the dust jacket, etc. Then I had to sadly box up my books in plastic boxes because there was literally no more room for them.
My current shelving system is this: books I have already read get placed in the appropriate box (I color code the boxes and my excel document so when I need a specific book I can look up what box it is in), and any books I haven’t read get placed on my shelf. Once they are read they go into a box until the day I own a thousand bookshelves and can organize to my hearts content. A good portion of these books will end up in my classroom library because all school libraries are lacking, I know from firsthand experience.
I love the idea on Mrs. Anderson’s blog post Creating and Managing a Classroom Library about having students donate books and then putting a label in the book saying who donated it and their graduation year. That is the ultimate legacy in my mind because we will never know how our books will impact someone. There are really great tips on this blog post for growing your own classroom library and some great testimonials for a classroom library can be found on her blog post Is “getting along fine” good enough?. If the answers from her poll don’t convince English teachers they need a classroom library then I don’t know what will.
My middle school English teachers had classroom libraries but non of my high school English teachers did and I think that if they did more of my fellow students would have been readers. Monitoring your student reading is important as well because having a library isn’t enough if they aren’t checking the books out and reading them. Peggy Kittle in her book Book Love gave some great ideas for monitoring student reading that she uses in her classroom. One idea is having students calculate how many pages they can read a week and then having a reading log which they fill in each week with how pages they read that week. She took it one step further and helped them calculate how many books they could read that semester. Goals really do motivate people especially students. I have a similar idea that keeps track of student reading-have students turn in a weekly or bi-weekly, depending on their reading rate, book review. Not a book report but a review of the book that can be posted up in the classroom or put in a binder where other students can read it. I find book reviews extremely helpful when deciding on what books to read and being able to know what their fellow classmates think of a book could be helpful. It’s not only a way for me to monitor student reading but a way for them to create something to help fellow readers.
Most kids don’t go to the public library for various reasons but probably because their parents can’t take them or they don’t have the time. By having a classroom library you are giving students access to books and giving them a place to discuss the book. Talk to your students about what they are reading and never hesitate to recommend books. Some of my greatest reads have from recommendations.