The Need for Classroom Libraries Even At the Secondary Level

July 15, 2017

Classroom libraries are essential even in middle and high school classrooms. Many schools lack the proper funding for libraries and librarians, but most importantly, research shows that the more contact students have with books, the better readers they become.
I am one of the moderators (and co-founder) of the #2ndaryELA Facebook group, in which there is a lot of discussion about books. Teachers ask for recommendations, share new favorites, and show off pictures of their latest book haul. Occasionally someone will ask the question, "Are classroom libraries necessary?"

The answer is always a resounding YES!

First, not every school has a school library. I work in a charter school where the CEO who oversaw the design of the building thought that in a digital world, books were becoming obsolete and didn't include a library as part of the plans. The administration at the school has changed, but we still lack the physical space for a library.

Second, while I hope that the situation at my school is an uncommon one, I think a more common situation is that a school may have a library, but no librarian. In large cities and small towns, when cuts have to be made, librarians are often deemed expendable. And at some of the high schools I taught at, no librarian meant no access to the library.

Classroom libraries are essential even in middle and high school classrooms. Many schools lack the proper funding for libraries and librarians, but most importantly, research shows that the more contact students have with books, the better readers they become.
Finally, even if your school has a library and a librarian, the more contact students have with books, the better readers they become. If you are interested in the research behind that statement, you can start reading here. The school library may be down the hall or downstairs and not accessible to students at all times, whereas a classroom library is in your classroom where, when a student has a free moment, they can easily walk over to a bookshelf and pick out a book. You can read more about how I organize my classroom library here.

To help you start or build your classroom library, I have partnered with Kristy Avis of 2 Peas and a Dog to give away $100 in books to six lucky teachers plus resources for independent reading, including journaling assignments for during reading and a variety of book report projects for after reading.

Enter the rafflecopter below for your chance to win. Winners will be contacted via email once the giveaway is complete. Due to shipping costs, this contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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89 comments

  1. This is amazing! Thank you!

    I'd love some great high interest non-fiction titles for my library. That is where I feel I am lacking.

    Thanks!

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  2. Yes! Classroom libraries are SO important to me as a first year teacher! Good luck to everyone and thank you for this opportunity!

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  3. Yes! Classroom libraries are SO important to me as a first year teacher! Good luck to everyone and thank you for this opportunity!

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  4. Thank you so much for this opportunity! Some of the titles I would purchase include Feed, Forged by Fire, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, We Were Liars, Scythe, and Orbiting Jupiter. These are a few books sitting in my Amazon cart. I have been teaching 8th grade for four years, but most of my books have come from yard sales and library sales. Many of them are old and worn out, so I would love to add new books to my classroom library!

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  5. Thanks for the opportunity! I'd love to be more high interest non fiction!

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  6. I would add some low-level high-interest books with diverse characters to engage my struggling students.

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  7. Thank you! I hope to win to add more graphic novels for my library as I teach newcomer high school students! ❤️

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  8. I need high interest, low level books. I teach in an alternative education school that has no library other than what I have in my classroom.

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  9. This is going to be my first year teaching, and getting extra resources and support to jump start my classroom library would be so helpful! I would add some of my favorite YA classics such as Speak and the Hunger Games trilogy. I would also add the literature classics like Gatsby, to Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Farenheit, and many more!

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  10. This is going to be my first year teaching, and getting extra resources and support to jump start my classroom library would be so helpful! I would add some of my favorite YA classics such as Speak and the Hunger Games trilogy. I would also add the literature classics like Gatsby, to Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Farenheit, and many more!

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  11. Thanks for the opportunity! I have hundreds of titles on my "classroom wish list," which I update regularly with what my students tell me they like. I teach in a rural, low-income district, so I'm always on the lookout for YA titles to appeal to my students' interests: outdoors, hunting, war, and small-town settings.

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  12. I love your organization ideas for the classroom library. I am a first year teacher who has really struggled with how I should organize my bookshelves. I inherited 10 books of book twosies and threesies that were worn and outdated. Many were not repairable.

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  13. This is wonderful! I have been working on building my classroom library, but I'm always having a hard time finding books since there's only 3 businesses (Walmart, HEB, and Target) in my city that offer books for sale, and their selection is very limited. I'm constantly going to our Friends of the Library, but they hardly have any books suitable for YA. So thank you so much for this opportunity!

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  14. The Hate U Give would make an awesome addition to my shelf! Thanks for the opportunity!

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  15. I'm moving from an elementary setting to sixth grade ELA. New books at that level would be very helpful to my students and not to mention my wallet! Thank you for doing this wonderful giveaway!!!

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  16. Moving from 3rd to 8th so I honestly don't know exactly what I need! Still exploring!

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  17. I haven't had an opportunity yet to see what book sets I have available, but I would be thankful for any books at all!

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  18. I haven't made any major additions to my classroom library for the past eight years. Since then, I've moved to 8th grade, and so much good YA lit has been published. I'd go through the best sellers lists from the past few years and add some great new titles to my library.

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  19. What a fantastic giveaway! I try to add to my library out of my own pocket, but that gets expensive and can't happen nearly as often as I would like. I would add more books for my male students and those who identify as reluctant readers.

    Thank you!

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  20. What a great opportunity to build classroom libraries! Putting books into the hands of my students is top priority for me. If books are available, how can I encourage them to read?

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  21. I would love to add some graphic novels to my 6-8 Enrichment ELA classroom. Titles like Smile, El Deafo, and Persepolis are high on my list! (This is Heather Van Otterloo)

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  22. Trying to up my library for the older kiddos

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  23. I'd probably add some classics and fan favorites! :)

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  24. I would love to add more fantasy and dystopian novels to my classroom library.

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  25. This is an amazing giveaway! I would love to win. I really need to get some books that are good for ELLs in my classroom library.

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  26. Mom-turned-teacher starting this academic year with 8th grade and just starting my library. Would love Harry Potter series, Hunger Games series, Out of my Mind, and some classics, but I'm really open to whatever blessings you all would recommend too!

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  27. This is a cool giveaway! I would definitely add more diversity to my library. I have a class library, but I can't keep up with all the newer titles.

    Again, thank you for this opportunity :)

    Kevin Feramisco

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  28. This is great! My kids love Manga series, and edgy YA novels like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Actually all mine were stolen they love them so much :(

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  29. Thank you all for this opportunity! For my classroom dream library, I would include The Hate U Give, Making Bombs for Hitler, Brown Girl Dreaming, Everland, Rules, The Girl I Used to Be, Counting by 7s, All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Red Queen, Asylum, Scythe, Matched, Looking for Alaska, & some graphic novels such as Ghost World, Blankets, American Born Chinese, & Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

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  30. I'd love to add more graphic novels, which are hard to come by when thrifting.

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  31. I would love to add more nonfiction and graphic novels to my classroom library.

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  32. I would love to add more literary nonfiction, as well as fiction novels from diverse authors to extend the walls of my small-town classroom.

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  33. This it's a pretty wonderful thing you are doing. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to purchasing some books I just heard Penny Kittle taking about in a conference I went to this summer (swoon... Love her!) Including Goodbye Days and Everything Everything. I'd like to get some Mike Lupica books for my boys. And I'd really like to get some multicultural literature.

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    1. Ugh... typos. I can teach but I definitely cannot text!

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  34. This is what's sitting in my wish list on Amazon Prime right now:
    The Hate U Give
    The Red Pencil
    The Witness
    The Testing Trilogy
    When She Woke
    Code Name Verity
    The Seeds of America Trilogy
    And The Mountains Echoed

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  35. This is an outstanding giveaway! I would love to add more multicultural novels. After reading The Hate U Give, I realized the importance of my students reading experiences with more varied protagonists, settings, etc. I would also like to add a few graphic novels, especially since the school's library doesn't have any.

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  36. This is awesome! I'm always looking at book sales for material to add to my classroom. I think I would use this money to buy more books for my male students!

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  37. Any new titles but graphic novels or nonfiction would be great!

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  38. This is my first year with my own classroom, so I have so many titles I'm looking for! I'd love to get The Hate U Give and add some fantastic Shakespeare graphic novels that I think my students would love.

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  39. I have been trying to build up my classroom for the past year, but it is so difficult. Our low-income, urban/inner-city district has a VERY limited budget. I would love absolutely anything!!!

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  40. I have very few books right now and would love guidance on picking out great books for high schoolers.

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  41. I have a classroom library because my school doesn't have a library, either. I use cloth bins on the shelves to try to keep the books organized. This is a wonderful giveaway, thank you.

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  42. Great contest idea! I would love to add high interest books for boys, graphic novels, books written in prose, and non-fiction. I think it is so important to keep my class library updated with selections to hook more students to be life-long readers! There is something special about handing a kid a book because you think they will enjoy it!
    Carrie C.

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  43. I wrote about the same thing, but I was asking for donations to build my library!
    Loudenclearblog.com

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  44. I actually just made a wish-list classroom library if I were ever to be given $1000 for a graduate class I'm taking on literacy across the curriculum.

    http://imgur.com/XMJpZk8

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  45. So excited for this! I'm moving from elementary to high school so my class library is grossly lacking in the YA department.

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  46. Moving from first grade up to 9th to be a reading specialist. I really need to build my library. I need a variety of titles at varying grade levels. Looking for high interest but below grade level books.

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  47. Like others have stated, I'd add some awesome NF! Thank you for this opportunity!

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  48. This is a great opportunity for teachers to build up their libraries! We are currently rewriting curriculum to be more focused on independent reading opportunities. As the school years progress, I find myself trying to stay current in YA lit, and with this, spending a ton of my own money to own a copy or two of a new read to intrigue readers. Moving forward into this year, I am looking to get my hands on some more historical fiction and nonfiction titles that appeal to reluctant readers. Most readers will pick up realistic fiction. I recently ordered Witches: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer, after your post about it, and I am hoping this kicks off some nonfiction love this year!

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  49. Wow! Amazing giveaway! I am always on the lookout for books for my classroom. My students seem to go for fantasy or science fiction so I would try to find some more books in these genres to pique the interest.

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  50. I am building my classroom library from scratch. I will be a first year 9th/ 10th grade teacher at a brand new school. I want my students to have diversity and choice, so I will be adding The Hate U Give. I love how THUG provides a rich layer of character, context and voice within a relevant topic. Thanks for offering this giveaway!

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  51. Thank you so much! I would love to see a mixture of classic and modern popular novels, poetry, and biographies/memoirs, as well as a mixture of topics that span across race and ethnicity. John Greene, Counting by 7s, fantasy, graphic novels. I am so excited for this opportunity!

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  52. I need more dystopian literature. My students read Fahrenheit 451 and want more after we are done.

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  53. What a great opportunity for anyone's classroom! My list would include graphic novels because I teach a reading class for reluctant readers. They enjoy reading the classics or any book when it's illustrated and easier to follow. I would also include audio versions for my auditory students. We sometimes forget their needs in the secondary classes.

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  54. Wow! Thank you for this opportunity. I just returned to the classroom last year and am starting my library from scratch. There are so many books I would love to add. Right now I do not have any graphic novels, poetry or non-fiction, so I think I would start there.

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  55. This is such a wonderful idea! I teach 7th grade, and this year I am reorganizing my classroom library. I have never really had an organizational system, but have decided to organize by genre. I would like to add some books from several genres including graphic novels, informational, non-fiction (biographies, memoires, etc.), fantasy, science fiction, poetry, etc. Thank you for this opportunity.

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  57. I would add some diverse books for my students.

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  58. I NEED a high interest non-fiction novel! I've been thinking about Boys in a Boat adapted for YA.

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  61. I need to add some high level age appropriate books to my 8th grade library. I teach regular and advanced and my advanced students need challenging options!

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  62. I would love to add several high interest books for boys to my classroom shelves. So many of my boys struggle to see the need to read and I would love to find a way to hook them in.

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  63. I am going to try to do more of a workshop model this year. And our librarian is going from teaching 0 classes, so the library was open all day except during testing, to possibly teaching 7 classes. So we aren't sure when if ever the library will be open! So I'd love to add to my small library and update it since most of the titles I have are a bit more middle school from when I taught 8th grade (I teach 9th now)

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  64. We are part of a charter school in rural oklahoma and I started the library at the school as a parent. We have a "formal" library time once a week and then kids are able to check out more books throughout the week with their teacher. It has been a challenging and interesting journey to get this library started. Because funding for libraries is virtually non existent, I am constantly soliciting for donations and have bought lots of our books myself. This would be an incredible opportunity to add some great books to our collection. Thank you!

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  65. I strongly agree! I schedule weekly library visits for my students, but they also have daily access to my own collection. They know I can recommend a book from my shelf for any reading mood. I'd like to stock it with more nonfiction and historical fiction.

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  66. I am moving from 5th grade ELA to 7th AND 8th ELA STEAM magnet school. We are starting from scratch so I have to leave my 5th grade library behind! I am still researching appropriate titles but genres I would include are science fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and nonfiction medical science books.(Y Gonzales)

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  67. My cart on First Books is overflowing with diverse, engaging voices to hook my reluctant urban readers! One of the greatest parts of my job is getting 8th graders in September who proudly proclaim they've never read a book all the way through, and turning them into readers who finish books, who read at home, who use the library to check out books instead of an excuse to get out of class!

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  68. thank you so much for doing this! i'm only in my second year teaching secondary and last year i just didn't have the resources to start a library. my goal this year is to get a pretty decent start on it. it will obviously grow / evolve over the years, but i'd like to get a few currents in there [wonder, everything everything, etc.], as well as some classics or some more popular series [potter, hunger games, divergent, etc.]. but that is definitely just the beginning!

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  69. This is awesome! Thank you so much for doing this! I am enjoying the FB group tremendously!

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  70. This is a wonderful giveaway and I would definitely use a portion to add to the biography section and also to diversify the books on my shelves so that all of my students see themselves whenever they look for a book.

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  71. Thank you for all you do with the 2ndary ELA FB group and for this awesome opportunity!

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  72. This is awesome! Someday I hope I have the funds to do this!

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  73. What a wonderful giveaway! Thank you! I am in need of more high interest nonfiction as well as an assortment of novels. Most of my books are hand-me-downs, and I teach at a private school, so I completely fund my classroom myself. Most of the covers are getting ratty, so I'd love the opportunity of a fresh, new look! I teach Reading to grades 6-8.

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  74. This is a fabulous giveaway! I appreciate the generosity and focus on making our students lifelong readers. New additions to my classroom library would be so welcome as my site does not actually have a school library (I know, right!). All books my students read are offered through Language Arts classes and a few bookshelves only go so far. Thanks again for keeping the spotlight on literacy!

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  75. I teach Read 180, so I'd love some high interest lower level books for my struggling readers. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  76. I would add more non-fiction titles that might interest some of my lower readers. Thank you for this opportunity!

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  77. I would like various leveled Spanish readers from Fluency Matters to help my students acquire a high-frequency lexicon. Thanks!

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  78. I would love to add some classics to my library as well as Heartless, Glass Sword, and Everything Everything.

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  79. I would love to order some sets of books for my classroom library. A few that come to mind include Red Queen, Mudbound, and The Devil in the White City. Thanks for the opportunity to enter!

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  80. I would love to include some books by diverse authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, etc. I would also love to include some graphic novels.

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  81. I love books of all genres, but my graphic novels need help. They're so popular many have or all falling apart. Thanks!

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  82. I would add Alan Gatz's books.

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  83. Thank you for offering this raffle!

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  84. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (can't keep this one on my shelves) and Benjamin Saenz' new book The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, The Hate You Give, Patina (Track), Bull by David Elliott, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, Carry on by Rainbow Rowell, etc.

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  85. I don't have a classroom library & would like to start one. I have many book suggestions that I have received through the 2ndaryELA FB group. I would like to include books from Kwame Alexander, Neal Shusterman, Fish in a Tree, and many more. Thank you for this opportunity!

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