The classroom library is one of the most important areas of the learning space. A welcoming, engaging space leads to more eager readers. One of the challenges for teachers is to create an environment that is not only functional and organized, but that also captures their students’ attention. The following tips are great, low-cost ways to do that. From simple highlighting to more interactive methods for grabbing attention, the classroom library can quickly become the “go to” destination in the room.
5 Tips for Maintaining a Great Classroom Library
Tip #1 – Rotate Books
The average elementary school teacher has hundreds of books in her personal classroom library collection. One way to keep students interested and going back for more is to rotate the selection of books in the library. Instead of putting out all 500 books, start with 100-200 books on the shelves or in the baskets. Every month, switch out some of the less-read books and replace them with new titles. Making it a special occasion in the classroom with a “Meet the Books Day” is a fun way to build anticipation for new selections each month.
Tip #2 – Easy to Reach and Browse
One of the biggest mistakes of classroom library set-up is having the books out of reach or too cumbersome to sort through. When organizing your books, get down to your students’ eye level and take a look at how the space is set-up. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Are the books on the top of the bookcase too high?
- Can the books on the bottom shelf be easily seen without having to crawl on the floor?
- Are the shelves or baskets organized in such a way that browsing is easy?
- Are there too many books stuffed in one spot?
- Is there anywhere to display the books with their covers facing out so that they are more inviting?
- Is the space welcoming and tidy?
How you set up the space can really make a difference in how eager your students are to browse and pick out new reading selections.
Tip #3 – Levels Made Easy
Choosing a book that is a good fit is essential for young readers. A book that is too easy may bore them and a book that is too hard may discourage them. At the beginning of the school year, complete a reading assessment with each child and give them a personal level recommendation. Explain your system for leveling the classroom library, if you have one, and how they can go about selecting books that are ideal for their reading level. If you choose not to level your books, teach children how to find “just right” books on their own.
Tip #4 – Author or Subject Displays
Create special displays once a week, once a month, or a couple of times each month that feature books by a certain author or books about a specific topic. This is an easy way to grab students’ attention and highlight books that they might otherwise pass up. Non-fiction subjects are perfect for this type of display.
Tip #5 – Student Recommendations
Let your students share their top book picks with their classmates through an interactive board in your class library. Use a dry erase board labeled with “Hot Picks” and encourage students to jot down their names and favorite books. Once a week, have a quick “Hot Pick Book Review” session where students briefly show and talk about the book they recommend and why they recommend it. It is not only great practice with oral presentation, but it also exposes other students to new books they may not have known about. You might even consider having a separate display shelf or pocket chart for the “Hot Picks” each week to encourage student engagement.
No matter what you do, encouraging your students to read more, explore different titles and genres, and be actively engaged with the reading process will lead to more eager readers. How do you encourage your students to read more? Leave a comment below and share with us!