I strongly feel that classroom libraries are essential for all classrooms, not just for English classrooms. Students need to understand that literacy does not end once they walk out of their English classroom’s door. Students need to see that books do not always have a storyline, and that reading takes on many forms. The best way to encourage adolescent literacy is to model what real reading looks like. Not everyone needs to sit down with a chapter book, reading non-fiction is just as important.
It does not matter what subject area you teach in, classroom libraries are an essential part of setting up a classroom. Your library does not need to house thousands of books, just enough to spark student interest in your subject area. Classroom libraries need love and attention just like any other area of your classroom.
Read the five myths below to see if your classroom library needs a little TLC.
- Classroom libraries maintain themselves. Like any area of the classroom, they need to be checked regularly for broken books, misfiled books and to see what books never get read. Ask for student volunteers to help maintain your classroom library.
- Classroom libraries never get stale. The interests and needs of our students are constantly evolving, so should our classroom libraries. Keep your eyes open for high-interest magazines and book sales to help keep the content relevant.
- Classroom libraries will naturally attract attention. Make your classroom library an exciting spot in your classroom. Regularly advertise new additions and classroom favourites. A few times a year I organize a “Read Dating” event for my classes. I set up the room in groups, place classroom library bins on tables, and set a timer. I purposely provide time for students to interact with the contents of the classroom library.
- Classroom libraries are a waste of time. Many teachers complain that their students never use their classroom library and it becomes a huge waste of time. Students need regular access to high-interest materials to enhance classroom instruction and inspire readers. Any area of the classroom if ignored can become a waste of time, space, and energy.
- Classroom libraries should be leveled. I do not level my classroom library. I organize the books by genre to help students narrow their selection choices. By middle school, most students know what interests them. For those students struggling to find the right book, sorting by genre helps me quickly select interesting books for my students.
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