At my new school, we don’t have our own classrooms.
We know that providing students with a classroom library is essential to building their literacy skills. Having easy access to high-interest books is the number one thing that has helped me promote choice reading. So when I first found out that I wouldn’t have my “own” classroom, I worried about how I’d be able to provide classroom library access to all of my students.
Luckily, I spend half of my teaching day in the same classroom, the giant American Studies room, which also homes my giant classroom library.
These books are all organized by genre or category, helping students navigate on their own if I’m not immediately available to help.
Classroom library on wheels.
My writing class meets in a different room, which is only a few doors down from the American Studies room, but it’s far enough away that the classroom library doesn’t feel like our classroom library. Since many of my students don’t take American Studies, they’re a little nervous about walking into the room and interrupting a class to browse our books.
My school is very supportive of choice reading and helped me problem solve, purchasing a mobile bookshelf that I use to cart my book-talked books, new books, and most popular books with me into the writing lab. Books are organized by category and genre on the cart too, and this moves back in the American Studies classroom with me in the afternoon.
But even though I have our most popular and talked about books on the mobile cart, I still find myself leaving the room to pull more recommendations from the larger, classroom library. (Thankfully I have a paraprofessional in that class who can hold down the silent reading fort for the few minutes it takes!)
Being a “teacher on a cart” has made the implementation of a successful choice reading program a bit more challenging, but I’m navigating! By next year, I’ll be a champ.
Why can’t students just use the school library?
The school library and the classroom library work together. One is not better than the other…it’s just more access to books!
My students still use the school library to check out books! Our librarian is awesome and really helpful. But…most of the kids who go down to the learning commons to check out books already have an idea of what they want.
My classroom (or mobile) library is a place where I easily pull out ten books that I know a student will like. I can support them through their struggle to find the right book. Even though I’m still getting to know my students, I’m getting to know exactly what they want to read, and being able to instantly pile ten books on their desk that I think they’ll love couldn’t happen without my classroom library.
Hopefully, in a few months, those struggling readers will build confidence and author-interest to navigate our learning commons on their own.
Last summer, many teachers told me that it would be impossible to incorporate choice reading because they didn’t have a place to hold a classroom library. It’s not impossible. It’s difficult and takes creative thinking to provide immediate access to books, but it’s possible.