The best decoration in the world is a room full of books.
[Now you can listen to the Big Fresh as a podcast.]
Libraries Inspire Readers
I grew up surrounded by books. My mom was a book lover and the head librarian at our small town library. There were always books around our house, and the library was my second home.
I have always been an avid reader. Some of my earliest memories are of snuggling on the couch as a family, reading picture books together. Then, buried in a quilt with a mystery or a biography as a pre-teen. I moved to the classics in high school, wanting to love them, but rarely absorbed in the story. I motivated myself by having a mystery waiting in the wings. In my early adult years, you would find me in the university library, surrounded by nonfiction books. I fell in love with brain research deep in the stacks.
As a student, I never ever sat in a classroom with a library inside of it. I hope that today’s students never ever have to say that. It’s not the only requirement for growing a reader, but when one is surrounded by books, the likelihood of becoming a reader skyrockets.
Classroom libraries are no longer a flashy new idea. They are a staple for many classrooms. In this issue, contributors share how they continue to shift their classroom libraries to grow readers in organic ways.
Join us on social media this week as we engage in the Choice Chat: Share a gratitude by leaving a comment on any of our social media channels. We’re giving away a free course to one commenter on each platform. The winner chooses the course.
This week we look at classroom libraries—plus more, as always.
Editor in Chief
This month’s featured contributor is Melanie Meehan. Melanie has been the elementary writing and social studies coordinator in Simsbury, Connecticut, since 2012. Melanie wrote Every Child Can Write, published by Corwin Press in October 2019, and The Responsive Writing Teacher, co-written with Kelsey Sorum, published in March 2021. Connect with Melanie on Twitter @melaniemeehan1.
Join the Choice Literacy Book Club! Melanie Meehan selected the picture book Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez as our November read. Grab a copy, and join the conversation using the hashtag #ChoiceLiteracyBookClub.
Melanie Meehan and Ruth Ayres discuss this week’s theme, classroom libraries, on the podcast.
Join the Choice Chat. Share a gratitude by leaving a comment on any of our social media channels. We’re giving away a free course to one commenter on each platform. The winner chooses the course.
Mandy Robek realizes her classroom library isn’t working for her second graders, in part because many of the books are still too difficult for students early in the year. She explains her process of sorting and stowing books for later use. This article was first published in 2016.
Mary Lee Hahn finds some of her fifth-grade readers are stuck in ruts by early winter. Her solution involves some radical changes to her classroom library over winter break. This article was first published in 2017.
UPCOMING NEW COURSE! We are getting ready to release Stella Villalba‘s new course Honoring Our Students’ Stories: Building an Intentional and Inclusive Learning Community.
Stella Villalba teaches us how to discover, honor, and share student stories to create an inclusive learning community. With special attention to English learners, Stella walks educators through a process to intentionally honor the past and present of students to position all students to grow as readers and writers.
New members-only content is added each week to the Choice Literacy website. If you’re not yet a member, click here to explore membership options.
Gretchen Schroeder intentionally leads students to “jilted genres” in her classroom library.
In this Quick Take video, Christy Rush-Levine shares how she organizes her extensive classroom library.
In this encore video, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser help experienced teacher Kelly create a numbering system for her classroom library.
In the course Gradual Release of the Primary Classroom Library, Bitsy Parks takes you into her primary classroom for a close-up look at how she organizes and then gradually releases the library to students over days, weeks, and months.
In the course It’s a Cycle, Not a Hamster Wheel: Getting the Most Out of Coaching Cycles, Dana Murphy takes you into the nitty-gritty of coaching cycles with examples and advice from experienced literacy coaches from across the country. You’ll view videos of an initial meeting between a coach and a teacher to plan a cycle and sample demonstration lessons within a cycle, as well as quick tips for getting organized and taking good notes throughout the cycle. (This course was created in 2019.)
Gwen Blumberg adjusts her expectations to a 5, rather than a 10, as she sets a big assessment project in motion. This small change in mindset allows the team to expect and embrace bumps and shifts along the way.
In a Coaching Minute, Ruth Ayres shares why it is important to expect and accept a lack of closure. This is part of a series about professional learning norms.
At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.
That’s all for this week!