To build up a library is to create a life. It’s never just a random collection of books.
Carlos María Domínguez
When I visited Bitsy Parks’ first-grade classroom last October, I admired a bookshelf full of tubs, all organized by series. I was delighted to learn Bitsy had been inspired to do a series unit with her first graders after reading an article by Katie DiCesare at Choice Literacy. “Those tubs aren’t open to students yet,” Bitsy explained. “I’ll introduce them for browsing in November, when we begin the series books unit.”
I was intrigued by the idea of “gradually releasing” the library to students in sections, so I asked Bitsy to tell me more. “I introduce and open different parts of the library throughout the fall.” She gestured to the full wall of books in tubs near the meeting area, on the other side of the room. “That’s the main classroom library, which is opened from the start of the fall. As children learn to make choices and browse independently, I open up other parts of the library. We’ll do our first author study soon, and I’ll create and open a bin to students celebrating that author. Every few weeks as we launch another author study, I’ll launch a new bin.” Other tubs and bins still to be introduced to students included leveled books and some small books not easy to categorize.
Teachers love to share ways they’ve reorganized their classroom libraries over the summer — sometimes introducing more nonfiction genres, or sorting books in ways designed to pique student interest. We’ve posted many articles about library organization at the site, as well as minilessons teachers present to introduce students to book-browsing skills. But chatting with Bitsy, I realized that the concept of rolling out the library over time in the primary grades is such a smart way to scaffold young readers as they are becoming independent. Many teachers are avid readers, and they have hundreds and hundreds of books in their classrooms. How exciting for a child to have a chance to browse all of those books . . . and how overwhelming. When children are learning to read, teachers naturally note what skills they have acquired and what skills should be introduced next. Learning to browse books and make wise selections for independent reading doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a lifelong process for most of us. Gradually introducing more books, organized in different ways, is a great way to build book-browsing skills and independence in young readers.
This week we look at how teachers might gradually release their libraries to students and think about organizing their book collections in new ways. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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Franki Sibberson provides a series of questions to help you focus on what students need in classroom and school libraries, as well as how those needs might be changing:
Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan share tips for getting books to students for summer reading:
Pernille Ripp shares some favorite Picture Books that Celebrate Books and Libraries:
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Bitsy Parks explains how she designs her first-grade classroom library for “gradual release” throughout the school year in a way that allows students to build book-browsing skills:
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:
If you are looking to increase the quantity and quality of graphic novels for your learners in your classroom library Shari Frost has a new booklist to get you started:
New PD2Go: Andrea Smith gives a tour of her classroom and explains how she organizes her nonfiction in this workshop focused on Nonfiction Displays:
This video and workshop guide fulfill Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.RI.4.10: By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4-5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
In an encore video, Stella Villalba gives a tour of her classroom library and publishing corner designed to support the grades 1-5 English language learners she works with daily:
That’s all for this week!