Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Bookcase at the Back of the Room

Find a bookcase you can place at the back of your room that is devoted to featuring your school's library books.   Have your librarian check the books out to you, so their location is known.  

It's best if you can display books with the cover art facing out.   This allows students to browse efficiently.   I like to keep some quick-reads on hand for my students.   Captain Underpants, Babymouse, How to Draw (with drawing paper provided), picture books, or several copies of a novel that I may do a read-aloud from during the week.   Sometimes the selections are all non-fiction or graphic novels.   You can group them however you please. 

Here's a small display rack that was no longer needed in the main office.   It's perfect for maximizing "face the front" space.   All featured books are from Ollie's.

Why?   Some students will only read books within their independent reading range when they are with you.   They don't want to carry around "baby" books.   They will carry a "decoy" book for ineffective pretend reading, but they may be brave enough to read something more attainable in the privacy of your classroom.

When you do a riveting read-aloud from a novel, it's good to have multiple copies for students to "try on" before checking the book out in their names.

If your school runs the Accelerated Reader Program, it's nice to encourage some "easy" points with children's books to build up some momentum for non-readers.   Also, if you've looked at some of the children's books that are available today, many are more sophisticated than you may remember.   They are a great help in teaching story frame and written expression.   Their fantastic illustrations remind us of how magical books can be.

If you teach above-average students, you may want to include books that feature gifted characters.   Contemporary young adult fiction titles that mirror plots of traditional classic literature are also engaging for confident readers.

I still take my students to the library as a class every two weeks.   Even so, there is always someone who sneaks back to the room without a book, usually due to a library fine.   I always have something available for independent reading in the bookcase.  

The idea is not to hold on to these treasures.   If a child expresses interest in taking the book home to finish, have the librarian transfer the item number to the child's account.   Will books disappear from your room?   Sometimes.   Check behind the bookcase before announcing that the book is lost.   If you have a librarian who understands that now and then books fly free, he/she may pardon the replacement cost.

Switch out the books in the case at least every two weeks.   Think of it as a garden with changing seasons.  It will become one of your favorite classroom features.

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