An Unprecedented Curation Process: Lucy Calkins and Colleagues Discuss the TCRWP Classroom Libraries

Lucy curating photo

Last week in the first installment of this three-part series we discussed the inspiration behind the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Classroom Libraries and began exploring the vision that guided the curators, a team made up of TCRWP staff, literacy coaches, renowned librarians, mentor teachers, and children’s literature experts such as Anita Silvey. This week we dive deeper into the fascinating story of the curation process.

The setting: Thorndike Hall, an enormous sub-basement at Teachers College, Columbia University. Hunkered down in their makeshift headquarters, TCRWP staff members sorted through boxes upon boxes of books recommended by over eight hundred educators and librarians from around the world. Over the course of a year, they meticulously reviewed tens of thousands of books using multiple selection criteria and consulted with dozens of the world’s leading experts in literacy and children’s literature. Lucy gives her first-hand perspective of the collaborative process here:

Although the curation of the grades K-2 and 3-8 libraries shared the same overarching principles, there are some key differences between them. In the following videos, Lucy invites us to hear from Molly Picardi and Mary Ehrenworth about the specific kinds of decisions that went into curating the primary and middle school libraries. 

Molly Picardi discusses issues specific to the primary libraries:

  • the importance of publishers in the selection of primary leveled books
  • the process for identifying and verifying reading levels 
  • some of the criteria used to choose books to engage beginning readers

Mary Ehrenworth discusses three main guiding principles behind the middle school shelves:

  • the necessity for high volume
  • issues of representation and equality
  • the libraries serving as mentors for students

Be sure to check back next week when we’ll explore tools for engaging all your readers! 

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To learn more about the TCRWP Classroom Libraries, browse representative titles, and place and order, visit calkinslibraries.com

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To view additional TCRWP Classroom Libraries FAQ videos, click here.

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