See below for a full transcript of the chat
by Anna Gratz Cockerille
Imagine yourself walking into your favorite bookstore or library. Everywhere you look is shelf after shelf of well-organized, beckoning books. You arrive at your favorite section. You skim title after title of inspiring, interesting, want-it-now reads. Your worry is not which book to choose, but how to find time to read all of the ones that are now suddenly on your list.
What could be more inspiring for reading than being surrounded by great books?
When students peruse our classroom libraries, this is the feeling we want them to have. We want them to feel drawn into the space, to be able to locate books that would be a great match for them quickly, to have a bit of space and time to search. We want them to feel both comforted and wowed with just the right combination of familiar favorites and new titles. We want them to be able to choose books in which they can practice the skills of the unit we are teaching, while still maintaining a sense of freedom and autonomy.
Keeping a classroom library that delivers the above requires ongoing vigilance. The first order of business is acquiring a sufficient volume of books. If budget is an issue, teachers can try the following (adapted from Chapter 4 of A Guide to The Reading Workshop: Intermediate Grades)
- Search tag sales and thrift shops for titles students will love.
- Save up points at companies that offer rewards programs for free books.
- Write to publishing companies to ask for donations (this often really works!).
- Submit grant proposals for funding for books to organizations like DonorsChoose.org.
- Volunteer at book stores during the holidays (perhaps gift wrapping books in exchange for donations).
- Hold a school wide book fair where families can purchase books for classroom libraries.
- Scout organizations such as First Book.
Then, there is the issue of keeping up with what’s hot in children’s literature. Each season, there are hundreds of new titles hitting the shelves. In 2016, thanks in large part to the organization We Need Diverse Books, there are more books than ever about children with a wide range of backgrounds and identities. Another big trend is books designed to encourage boy readers. The wonderful Jon Scieszka has been at the forefront of this moment. See his organization’s website, Guysread.com, for inspiration.
And, as always, fellow teachers are one of the best resources when it comes to sourcing amazing books. Tomorrow night, the TCRWP community, led by expert book lover and senior staff developer Shana Frazin, is coming together to chat about the BEST books for classroom libraries. Join us to collect tons of inspiration for your library and to share some of your own favorite titles and resources.
Each Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. eastern, The Teacher's College Reading and Writing Project hosts a Twitter chat using the hashtag #TCRWP. Join @sfrazintcrwp to chat about the best books and planning classroom libraries tomorrow evening.
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Anna Cockerille is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer based in New York City. She has taught in K–8 classrooms all over the world in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Auckland, New Zealand. Anna has been a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP) and an adjunct instructor for the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College. She writes at Two Writing Teachers.
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In order to help you to prepare, we are posting the questions in advance. This way, you have some time to gather your thoughts on classroom libraries and bring them to the chat. Hope to see you there!
Q1 What principles guide how you organize your classroom library (basket labels, sections, unit match, etc)? #TCRWP
Q2 What tips do you have for teachers who are trying to build/expand their classroom library collection? #TCRWP
Q3 What classroom library challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? #TCRWP
Q4 How do you engage and include your students in setting up the library? #TCRWP
Q5 What series or individual titles are hooking your readers? And how do you keep recommendations going all year long? #TCRWP
Q6 Planning #RUOS on mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, argument/advocacy? Please share titles and tips. #TCRWP
Q7 What books have helped you tackle tough topics with your students? #TCRWP
Q8 Let’s not forget about nonfiction—Favorite authors? Series? Titles? Go! #TCRWP
Q9 Technology offers new and amazing ways to connect kids and authors. How have you done this? #TCRWP
Q10 What strategies help you stay current on children’s literature? #TCRWP