Summer vacation is a great time to restock and reorganize your classroom library. What changes can you make to your existing collection that will further and support literacy instruction for your students? First, make time to quickly go through the books you currently have. Throw out those that are in disrepair. Consider selling or donating those that are outdated or unwanted. Make repairs to damaged items and create a how-to guide for students to do any future mending. Check to see that each book is marked with your name and classroom number as well as a label indicating the book’s storage location in the library. Many teachers choose to store books in bins, crates, bags, or boxes that are labeled by subject or genre and that are color coded to match colored labels on the books for quick sorting. No matter how you choose to organize your books, make it a system that is kid-friendly.
Once you have cleared out the books that you do not want and those that remain are properly stored, you can get a visual clue as to what your collection may be lacking. Part of getting kids to want to read depends on what resources are available. You want to interest a variety of kids who have different preferences and backgrounds. For this reason, be sure that your library is cross-curricular. Include books on a variety of subjects. Informational texts on the subjects of art, music, science, health, technology, economics, and history are excellent choices to include. Think about your units of study throughout the school year. Look for titles that will enrich your students’ knowledge of the lessons you will be covering. Will they need special books to use for research projects? These kinds of books will be a great asset for students. Keep a collection of books that speak to the aspiring creative minds in your class. Subjects like dance and drama will appeal to select students. Others will be interested in books related to geography and cultures. Kids need to have access to both nonfiction and fiction books. Give them real people to read about in the form of autobiographies and biographies, but also give them the characters of make-believe in fairy tales, mysteries, fantasies, and westerns. How-to books, joke books, and books of poetry can inspire kids to read more, and so will the chapter books and the award winners of the past and present. Essentially, there should be something for everybody in your classroom library.
Keep your eyes open for great deals on books this summer. Take advantage of sales held by stores and online retailers. You are sure to find all kinds of books in neighborhood garage sales. Seek donations using social media, too. When your friends and family learn that you’re improving your classroom library, they will be happy to give you books that their children once enjoyed.
In addition to selecting books in a variety of subjects and genres, you will also want a variety of media available for kids to read. Besides books, you should include specialty interest magazines, newspapers, comic books, and graphic novels. While some kids may be reluctant to pick up a book, they may love to read when presented with a different format.
Having reading materials for different reading levels is as equally important as having different subjects and genres for students. You want your books to challenge readers, but you do not want to alienate those who struggle. Keep this in mind when making your selections. Your library should work to improve reading skills and influence students to read for pleasure.