A Joy-Filled Classroom Library

July 18, 2016

The summer months have motivated me to de-clutter, to organize, to sift and sort through cabinets and closets, and to add a few special touches to liven up the spaces around my home. A personal read that inspired my “mission organization” this summer is a practical guide for creating spaces in the home that “spark joy."


This idea led me to think about the importance of creating joyful learning environments for and with students at the beginning of the school year.  More specifically, designing READING spaces that spark joy, motivation, and a love of reading.  Creating a reading space focused on spotlighting books while experiencing the authentic joy that only they can bring.  The classroom library is a proven source of reading motivation and is the “heartbeat” of a literacy-rich classroom. With intentional planning, organization, and explicit teaching, the classroom library can be a valuable resource to nurture and support developing readers.


Here are some ideas to think about when planning and launching an effective classroom library.


Make it inviting.   Create a comfortable space that invites readers back again and again. How will you stage books to make them attractive and accessible for your readers?  What elements will add joy to the space and reel in readers?


Control the clutter.  Sort and categorize titles by author, by topic, or by genre into baskets.  This will make it easier for readers to find and return their just-right books.  To reduce clutter, consider offering fewer book choices early in the year, then adding more or substituting as the year goes on. 


Focus on variety.  Take stock of the collection of books you have.  Do you have books on different topics that meet students’ interests? Are there books in the library that will spark the joy of your readers?  Are a variety of genres represented?


Involve your students.   I used to think a “just build it and they will come” approach was all that was needed for a classroom library to work.  Now I know that student choice and voice are essential to success.  How will you involve your students in designing the space, sorting books, creating labels, or managing the space?


Classroom libraries are seen as a staple in many early childhood classrooms.   Finding the joy in this ordinary space can make a huge difference in the success of our developing readers.  

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Training Spotlight

1st-3rd grade educators worked together to learn engaging ways to develop number sense. Students will develop fact fluency while playing games that use their number sense strategies. By learning their facts in this way, students are not merely memorizing, but rather learning to work with numbers flexibly.  “Low achievers are often low achievers not because they know less but because they don’t use numbers flexibly – they have been set on the wrong path, often from an early age, of trying to memorize methods instead of interacting with numbers flexibly.” Jo Boaler,  Stanford University, 2009


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