Organize Your Classroom Library for Young Readers

Organize Your Classroom Library for Young Readers

Hi! My name is Michèle Dufresne and we
had a question from Corey on Facebook asking about how I best thought we
should organize a classroom library. So, I’m gonna talk a little bit about that.
If you’re a kindergarten or first grade teacher, you probably have a lot of
students that are at very early stages of reading, so that’s going to be a
little different than setting up your classroom library if you have a lot of
readers in your classroom. I know that a lot of teachers, to help those students,
have been creating bins based on the guided reading levels. So, you might
have an “A” bin, a “C” bin, a “D” bin, or maybe you’re using Reading Recovery levels
with a one or a two or a three on them. While that can be really helpful, you
can direct students to bins where they will find books that they probably will
be able to read or will not find as challenging, I can see a growing problem
from that approach. I’m seeing kids in classrooms telling me what level reader
they are. I have parents voicing concern about what level their students are at
and telling me what level their students are at. The leveling system that
Fountas and Pinnell created, or that Marie Clay originally created for Reading Recovery was not for the purpose of helping students select books. I
think it’s really does a disservice to children to make them feel that they’re
in a certain level. It creates angst and concern. I do love organizing bins by
themes or contents. This is a dinosaur bin. Students love dinosaurs,
animals, authors, Junie B. Jones, or Bella and Rosie books all are ways that you
can create bins where students can find books that they’re interested in. But
that does not get at the issue of helping students find those books that
are right for them. One of the things that I do with young children, I have every
student in a classroom have a book box: K-1 and 2.
In that box should be a collection of books that they can read. Most of
those books, I think, come from guided reading. When you finish your guided
reading lesson, and you’ve taken your running record with some of your
students, then those books would go into their personal book box. But, that’s not
the only way that they can get books the other way that I give books out to
students is sometimes in a whole class setting, I might actually do a little
book sharing. I might have a little pile of books, sometimes multiple copies
of it, and I’ll talk a little bit about it almost give a mini book
introduction to it and then say “who would like to read it?” Everybody raises
their hand, they all want to read it, and I pass it out to the students that I
know it’s going to be right for. The other way that I give books out is at my
guided reading lessons. When I finish up a lesson and I know my students need
more books for independent reading time, then I will have a collection of books.
Again, I will do a mini book introduction. if I have multiple copies, this works
really well, and I will ask students to choose a couple to put into their book
box. One of the things that I see happening in classrooms is–especially
with the students that are struggling–is children sitting during
independent reading time and just flipping through books. They are not
reading the books because their basket, or their book box, or the books piled
that they have to read during independent reading are too hard for them
to read. I’m not against students having a chance to browse books–a chance
to look through it. But, I think that it is so important for students to have
opportunities to read and reread and practice their reading. What we know
is that students that are struggling the most are the ones that do the least
amount of reading. I really think you need to ensure that the books in their
book box are books they can read. I also really do prefer, rather than just have
students read to themselves, is setting them up with a partner. I like to have
mixed abilities at partner reading so they sit shoulder-to-shoulder and I teach them
how to take turns reading. If you have a student that’s reading a chapter book,
they might read a chapter or part of a chapter. Then, the student that has
shorter books might read all of the book, and they take turns reading them. It’s a
good thing for both readers–the both of them get a chance to hear how they’re
reading sounds. It’s much more likely that they will read the whole
book if they’re reading it to somebody else. And it’s far less likely that
you’ll have students just browsing through the books and not reading. So,
that’s one way to really help set up your classroom. If you have older
students again I find that your older students are very much drawn to authors.
Particularly, they love to read series. So, I think setting up lots of boxes that
have particular authors that you know the students want to read more of
available. I love doing a book talk where I’m basically advertising books for my
students to read, because I think that sometimes you find that students don’t
get in there and read enough variety. If they’re just going to the shelf and
they’re seeing leveled leveled books and they think, “oh, I’m just gonna read easy
books,” or, “oh, I’m just gonna read hard books.” Rather than do that, I like to have
a pile of novels that I’m trying to get them into, chapter books that I’m trying
to get them into, or even picture books available that I talk about and then ask,
“who would like to read it.” Then, you have an opportunity to kind of convince
those students that only read adventure stories, or only read “Junie B. Jones”
stories to try some other things. So, Corey, thanks for your question! If
you have questions or other topics that you’d like to hear about let us know.
Thanks for watching!

One thought on “Organize Your Classroom Library for Young Readers

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