With that in mind, here are some tips, links, and resources to help you build and add to your classroom library.
- Boushey and Moser cite research that recommends primary-grade classrooms should have 700-750+ titles and upper grade classrooms should have 400+ titles (Allington and Cunningham 2007). The authors state they actually aim for 1,000 titles in each classroom.
- Books should represent as many genres as possible, and should include a variety of fiction and non-fiction books. Scholastic has a variety of grade-level book lists organized by core subject (you can also order sets that include all the books on each list). I've linked each of the grade level lists here:
- Have clear check-in/check-out procedures if the books can be taken out of the classroom.
- Use an organization system that works for you. Some teachers use shelves; others have bins of books sorted by genre or reading level. At the younger grades, you will likely have one book box per student for literacy time and an organized classroom library (that feeds into those book boxes). This blog is a good example of how one teacher organized her 2nd grade classroom: Creating a Classroom Library.
Ways to build your classroom library:
- Send a letter home encouraging parents to donate any unwanted books to your classroom.
- Set up a DonorsChoose.org project. During my time at OPA, I successfully funded 5 projects and two of the projects were for classroom library books. While it does take some time to initially set up DonorsChoose, it is worth the work!
- Pair your classroom budget or legislative monies with discounted books such as First Book, used books on Amazon, The Book Outlet, Thrift Books, or books from second hand stores like the DI.
- Supplement your growing library with books from our school libraries. If you are a newer teacher who is just building your classroom library, take advantage of the excellent resources we already have available at the school. The librarians are happy to help and are a wealth of knowledge.
- Reading Resource Program: Order grade-level sets of 100 books. The books are "free" - you pay $0.88 per book for shipping. So, it's $88 per set of 100, which isn't bad if you split it among grade level teams.
Classroom libraries for subjects other than Language Arts:
- At the middle school grades, it's common for classroom libraries to be found exclusively in Language Arts. However, having a classroom library in your math, science, social studies, or elective class serves many purposes. For one, it helps with the perennial issue of what kids should do if they get done early - with a rich classroom library, one of the choices can always be to read a book related to your content. In addition, having these books available helps students see the real world applications of you subject area.
- Include biographies of famous people who were successful within your subject area.
- Consider fiction books that relate to your subject. For example, Michael Crichton is great for 9th grade science and the 39 Clues is excellent for social studies. See more recommendations via the Scholastic links in the General Recommendations section above.
- Use alternative texts like the Guinness Book of World Records, newspapers, magazines, and other reference books. These can be quick, entertaining reads for kids and correlate to your subject area. Trivial Pursuit cards and other resources like ACT in a Box can engage reluctant readers.
In the process of writing this blog, I came upon a variety of other grants and resources. If you have specific wants or needs, please talk to me to see what may be available. In addition, if you have other resources or tips, please leave them in the comment section .