The area of my room which ALWAYS gets my attention first, is my classroom library. It is my absolute favorite part of my room, and I believe it is a direct reflection of me and what I believe in. When someone walks into my classroom, I want them to think, "reading is important in this room."
The past four years I have arranged my room so that the library is like a little room within my classroom. It is a secluded area, and the students love to go in and lay on the floor with pillows and read. When the students arrive on the first day of school, the library is blocked off, so they can't go in or even see in. They all want to know what is in there...creates quite a mysterious effect. I always tell them it is a very special place, and some day soon they will be able to go in. A couple of days later, we have a library grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. I give them bookmarks and pencils and together as a class, we have our first reading celebration.
This year due to the high number of students in my class, I have had to open up the library to allow more room. At first I did not care for the new arrangement, but I am starting to see the possibilities. It now houses my gathering spot for minilessons and what better place than my library!
The past couple of years I have also made some changes on how I organize my books. We are an Accelerated Reader corporation and most teachers have their books arranged by book levels. I am not a fan of AR and quietly express this to my students, parents and other teachers. I think there are many other ways to get kids to read - but that is another post!
Trying not to rock the boat but still hold fast to my beliefs, I started organizing my books by different categories. I pulled out the most popular series, favorite authors, Mrs. Eck's picks, and new books and created separate baskets for those, while leaving most books still organized by AR levels. This worked well and only solidified my belief that kids need to know how to choose books arranged as if they were in a bookstore, not by AR level.
This year I have decided to organize some new baskets according to genre. As I was perusing the baskets and pulling out books, I started thinking about how these new baskets could be used with my genre lessons while creating a learning experience for my students. I am thinking about letting my students do the organizing as they are reading. After a student reads a book and uses what he/she has learned about genre, they can decide where the book belongs.
As of right now, the baskets are empty, waiting for books that my students will read. What do you think? Do I dare continue decreasing baskets of AR book levels and creating more authentic organization, or do I keep it in AR levels like most other teachers. I would love to hear your thoughts and how your classroom libraries are organized.
Have a great week!
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