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Look at all Those Books! Co-Constructing the Classroom Library

“Wow. Look at all those books!” This is exactly the reaction I want as kids enter the classroom and find a giant pile of books on the rug. Yes, before a new unit of study that is exactly what I do – I let the children wade through a pile and touch all of the books for our upcoming unit.

Now during COVID-19, it can’t be the free-for-all I would like it to be. Instead, kids approach the pile one at a time and begin to sort. The others look on, pretending to read independently, but I know they are watching. For these few moments, I want them to watch.

As one child sorts, I sit on the rug and help the student decide which books to find. During this process I hear, “Oh, look – these are all the Yasmin books.” Or, “Wow! Look at this one.” As they sort, it is my chance to introduce the child to new authors, characters, and series I hope they will enjoy.

Once the student chooses what to collect, they grab an empty basket and find all the matching books. Now my favorite part begins. This student needs to move one of the book baskets from our “current unit of study shelf” into the larger classroom library. I love watching these little hands grab an old basket, walk across the classroom, and decide where to place it. They often yell to their classmates, “If you are looking for the books about sea animals, they are right here.”

Once they are done, they head back to their seat with a book from the basket they created and an index card. Their job is to make a label for the new basket.

Now our “focus library” is ready and I breathe a sigh of relief. The time it takes me to collect texts from my book collection, the school library, the book room, and the public library was worth it.

4 thoughts on “Look at all Those Books! Co-Constructing the Classroom Library”

  1. This is something I think they will take with them forever–they will always see piles of books in this way!

  2. This took me back to when I used to flood my middle school classroom with poetry books every April. I would max out my own card and then use my daughter’s and my husband’s cards. Love the student created labels and their involvement in moving the bins around.

  3. All of this is absolutely FANTABULOUS!!!! Thank you for wanting there to be a free for all! lol. Thank you for helping your kids love reading, be a part of it, oh my …. I could go on and on. They’re lucky to have you … and I know you get it that you’re lucky to have them! 🙂

  4. For some people the idea of sorting books with the kids may seem daunting and messy. Yet, the discoveries the kids make and the ownership they take is so worth the time of co-constructing the classroom library.

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