3 Ways to Make Your Classroom Library a Reading Magnet

August 11, 2019

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.
Last year I had grand plans about building a community of readers in my classroom. Some of my ideas worked out, some things I started but didn't follow through on, and some things never happened at all. This year I'll be teaching only English Language Arts (last year I also taught math), and I'm just as committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Here's how I make sure my classroom library does that.

Clear Off Those Shelves
Step one is actually getting rid of books. I know it is hard to wrap your head around building a great library by taking books out of it (it was hard for me too), but how will students find great books among the mediocre or not so great ones? I inherited a classroom library when I moved into my classroom (all classrooms in my school have one since we don't have a school library). I am eternally grateful for this inheritance, but that meant that not everything on the shelves should have been in a sixth grade classroom.
I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.

During the first week of school, as my students were getting to know our classroom library, I asked them to remove any books they thought were too young or too old, or were really beat up. I did this same process myself at the end of the year and ended up with a big box of books to donate and more room on my shelves for new books. I don't use a check out system for my students, but if I did, I would also weed out books at the end of the school year that no one had checked out. As I cleaned off my shelves at the end of the year, I also made a list of any books from series that were missing and ordered them over the summer.

Get Organized
Everyone has an opinion on genre versus alphabetical for organizing their library, and I opt for doing it by genre because I think it is easier for students to find a book they are interested in that way. My ten genres are: historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, dystopia, nonfiction, realistic fiction, humor, romance, action/adventure, and mystery/thrillers.

I've used a sticker system in the past to help keep my genres organized, but I'm not doing that currently because all of the books in my classroom library aren't technically mine. I have held on to a good number that I have inherited. Our PTA also gives us Scholastic Dollars to spend at least twice a year that the school has earned from book fairs, so those books also belong to the school, not me. 

Instead of stickers, I use signs to help organize the genres of my classroom library. They are picture frames (IKEA Tolsby) with a description of the genre on one side and examples of popular middle school books from that genre on the other side. This year I may also add some bins to keep series or more specific topics within a genre together.

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.
Spotlight Books
The easiest and my favorite way to get students' eyes on a book is simply to line them up on the ledge of whiteboard. When I add new books to our classroom library, I'll just write "look, new books!" For new books, I also hold book raffles to see who will read it first and did this as well for the one and only First Chapter Friday I did at the start of last school year. I'm hoping to make that a part of my Friday routine this year. 

Other times I'll pull books from our classroom library that I've read and loved, and write a little blurb above the book to spark interest. As the year progresses, you could also have students do the same thing for other students. Peer recommendations are a powerful thing. 

After homeroom and announcements, our students have a WIN (what I need) period for either intervention or enrichment. Once a 6 day cycle, we hold our class meetings during that WIN period. A few times last year, we used that time to share out books we'd read and loved. Then we used the book generator at PickMyYA (which doesn't seem to exist anymore) and the title suggestions on WhatShouldIReadNext to find books we might love. I did some Amazon shopping based on what students came up with and added those to our library.

I'm committed to building that community of readers in my classroom. I can't do that without making sure my classroom library is one that will attract students no matter what their reading interests are. Read on for how I make sure my classroom library does that.

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