Classroom Library Today: Our School Library Influences My Classroom Library

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One of my students came back from the library recently excited to try out a new series. This reader often struggles to find books that he wants to read that are not too challenging for him. He wants to read the books that some of his classmates are reading, but he quickly gets frustrated when he realized he cannot read them independently.

Seeing him come back from the library, excited about a series that I knew he could read make my heart happy. The book that he checked out was Five Fouls and You’re Out, a book in the Sports Illustrated Kids Victory School Superstars series.

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Watching him get lost in his library book made me so happy. As soon as he finished the book, he rushed up to me to tell me all about it. The joy in this reader’s voice is what we hope all of our readers experience. After he got done telling me all about the book, he showed me a two page spread at the end showing other books in the series (below).

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He looked up at me hoping I would find a way to get these books into our school. I asked him if he wanted to make a list a few books in the series that we should add to our classroom library. He smiled and nodded. I’m working on getting them ordered for our classroom library.

I know that my classroom library can never replace our school library, but it sure can help me figure out what books I need to add to it. Adding a few books from this series to our classroom library will help others find the series. Once they get hooked, I can send them to the library to check out other books in the series. When classroom and school libraries compliment each other readers win.

I think that we all want our readers to win.

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for my latest book recommendations. 

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You Need To Read Where The Heart Is by Jo Knowles

I think that Jo Knowles’s middle grade novels are in the must read category. Her books make me feel all sort of things, and they leave me thinking about the characters long after I read the final page. Her latest book Where The Heart is a beautiful story that middle grade readers are going to devour.

Classroom Library Today: One Topic Leads to Another

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One of my students asked me if I had any books about the Boston Tea Party. We have been studying the events that lead to the Declaration of Independence, and he wanted to learn more. I handed him Jonathon W. Stokes The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution. He loved it. I think he finished it in a day and a half.

After he finished the book he came up to me looking for another recommendation. I thought he might want some more books about the Boston Tea Party, but instead he asked if I had any more Thrifty Guide books. Thankfully, I did! He was excited to see that we had The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome (and Ancient Greece).

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Watching this reader move from one topic to another within a series has me thinking about how I can help other readers find nonfiction series that they will love. So often, when giving nonfiction book recommendations to my students, I focus on topic instead of series. I’m thankful that this reader reminded me that their are lots of ways to help kids find great nonfiction books to read.

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for my latest book recommendations. 

Classroom Library Today: A Tub on the Floor

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One of my readers is obsessed with ocean creators. She dreams of going to Oregon State University to compete as a gymnast and study marine biology. Early this week, she grabbed Tub 96 (Freshwater/Ocean) and placed it next to her by one of our couches.

During independent reading she worked her way through books about surprising swimmers, stingrays, and dolphins. I wasn’t surprised to see her doing this. What was surprising was the handful of other students in our class reading books out of Tub 96. It was crazy to see her passion for a topic rub off on her classmates. She didn’t even have to say anything. All she did was bring these books to the attention of other readers. Before this happened, I’m not sure that more than 2 kids read a book out of that tub all year, and this week it has been our most popular nonfiction tub.

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What I learned from this spike in the popularity of Tub 96 is that sometimes kids just need to have some of the less read books in our libraries brought to their attention. If those books are blessed by one of their peers, chances are they are going to find a whole bunch of new readers.

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. 

Classroom Library Today: We Don’t Have Any Turtle Books?!

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We have a lot of books in our classroom library, but I know that no matter how many books we have we will always have holes. Earlier this week, we discovered a whole that really surprised me.

I was talking to one of my students about what she wanted to learn more about. She told me about a few things that she was sort of interested in. Her eyes lit up when she started talking about turtles. I asked her why she hadn’t read any of our classroom library books about turtles. When she told me that we didn’t have any I was shocked. Part of me didn’t believe her. She took me over to the reptiles/amphibians tub, and flipped through the books. Sure enough, she was right! A bunch of books on frogs and snakes, but not one book on turtles.

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I’ll spend the next week or so creating a list of books on turtles for us to add to the classroom library. In the meantime, we’ll head down to the school library to see what we can find.

Classroom libraries are never complete. Each year our readers are different, and during the course of the year their interests and preferences evolve. The best way to make sure that we meet the needs of the readers in our classrooms is to get to know them, book talk a ton of books, and find ways to add the books to your library that they want to read.

If you have any “turtle book” recommendations, drop them in the comments. Thank you! 

Thank you for reading this post. It means the world to me. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. To check out the other post in my Classroom Library Today series click here. I go into more depth about classroom libraries in the book I wrote with Donalyn Miller: Game Changer! Book Access For All Kids

Classroom Library Today: A New Book Creates Interest In Other Books

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I am blessed to receive some advanced reader copies of books before they come out. During spring break I got a copy of the graphic novel adaptation of Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover.

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Many of my students have read Kwame’s novels in verse The Crossover and Booked. When I showed the kids the graphic novel adaptation of The Crossover they freaked out. When I asked if anyone wanted to be the first reader a couple dozen hands shot into the air. Only one of my students could be the first reader, but what was cool about the whole event was how many other students wanted to read Kwame’s other books. Hearing their classmates talk about how good The Crossover was led to 3 kids picking up a copy and starting to read it. All of my copies of Booked were also borrowed.

Constantly adding new books to the classroom library is extremely important. My readers have been with me for more than 140 days, and I have to make sure that our library grows as they grow as readers, and as I get to know them better. The cool thing about adding new books to a classroom library is that it doesn’t just give kids new books to be excited about, but it also helps bring other books to their attention. I’m excited to have some new Kwame Alexander fans in my classroom. I can’t wait to talk about his books with them.

Kwame’s new picture book came out on the same day, so we of course had to end the day reading The Undefeated together. You have to check out this book! It is important.

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. 

 

 

 

 

Classroom Library Today: I Don’t Like to Read Any Nonfiction Books

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Today one of my fifth graders told me that they hadn’t read any nonfiction books this year, and that she was hoping to keep it that way. Her thoughts on nonfiction books made me chuckle.

I asked her to share what she was interested in, and she looked at me like I was crazy. I asked her if their was a time period she wanted to learn about, a company that she thought was cool, an animal that interested her, or maybe a famous person she wanted to learn more about. She said that she loved the shoe brand Converse. I told her that I thought it was a pretty cool brand, too. Our classroom library doesn’t contain any books about the company Converse, so I pulled my phone out of my pocket and we did a Google search to see if we could find a book. A couple of books popped up, and we read the descriptions together. She said that if I ordered one that she would happily read it.

I bought the book right there on my phone. She seemed surprised and happy. I asked her if she was interested in others brands or companies. She nodded. We have a tub in our classroom library filled with the series “Brands We Know“. I brought it to her table and we browsed the books together. She was excited to see that we had a book in the series about the company Netflix. She put it in her book basket, and told me that she was going to read it next.

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By this time, we had gathered a crowd. Three or four of her friends were circling the “Brands We Know” book like vultures. We invited them to see if they could find a book that they wanted to read. It was wild to see a tub in our classroom that had been collecting dust, all of a sudden, become as hot as the Dav Pilkey tub. Kids left this little meeting with books about Nickelodeon, Nike, and Dairy Queen.

Today, I was reminded how important it is to book talk a variety of books. Often the books in our classroom library that are not being read just need to be brought to the attention of our readers.

 

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. 

 

Classroom Library Today: I Need Help Finding A Biography To Read

 

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As I try to get back into the habit of blogging regularly, I thought it might be fun to start a series about our classroom library. The classroom library is part of just about everything we do, so it might be fun to share a few times a week how the library impacted our day. 

Today was the first day back from spring break. Each time we come back from a break, I have the kids reflect on how their reading went during our time together. They answer a few questions, and then we discuss what went well and what we need to work on. Since we only have one quarter of the school year left, I also asked the kids to reflect on what genres they have been loving this year, and what genres they still need to try.

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After finishing up their reflections, one of my readers came up to me and asked if I could help them find a few biographies that they might be interested in reading. We talked for a couple of minutes about her interests. She said that she loves Amelia Earhart, and asked if it would be okay if she some books about her. I smiled, and showed her that in our biography section we have a tub labeled FLIGHT. The tub if filled with biographies about people that are known for their work in flight. She got really excited as we flipped through the books. She grabbed 3 Earhart books, and we talked about how after she finishes those she might want to try other books in the tub.

My hope is that our classroom library meets the needs of all of our readers. Today was a reminder that event after 140ish days of school, my readers are still learning how to find the books they want to read.

I can’t wait to see how we use our classroom library tomorrow!

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Thank you for reading this post. I send out a weekly newsletter every Sunday morning. If you’d like to subscribe, please visit my website. At the top of the site is a place to sign up for the newsletter. 

Have More Fun

Get Lost in Stockholm

Before my third or fourth year of teaching, my principal asked all the teacher at our school to write down, on a sticky-note, a goal we had for the upcoming year. Something we wanted to work on, and something she could help us with.

On my sticky-note I wrote: HAVE MORE FUN.

I don’t think that is what she had in mind, but she stuck it up on her office window with all the other goals set by teachers. Each time I was in her office that year, I remember looking at my note and smiling.

I spend the year trying to have more fun with my students. The purpose of school isn’t to have fun, and fun doesn’t equal student achievement, but by golly I know that I learn more when I’m having fun, so I figured if we were all having more fun, that it wouldn’t hurt anybody.

I didn’t try to do anything fancy that year. What I remember is smiling a lot, playing a lot of Four Square at recess, sharing a bunch of books together, and trying to make each project we did a tad more fun than the one before.

I’m heading into the final quarter of my 12th year of teaching. Every day isn’t perfect, but most of them are pretty darn fun. I love teaching today more than I ever have. I probably work just as hard as I ever have, and I love the work. I love figuring out what my students can do, and what they need to take the next step. I love watching them find the perfect book, and I love watching them struggle with the imperfections with our country as we navigate our fifth grade American history standards.

I’m on spring break for the next week or so. When I get back to school, I think I’m going to find a sticky-note, and write: HAVE MORE FUN on it.

I’m not sure what you do, but I hope you have as much fun doing it as I do teaching.

 

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I am a fifth grade teacher in Michigan. My life’s work is getting books into the hands of kids, and helping them fall in love with reading. If you are looking for ways to help increase book access for your readers please check out the book I co-wrote with Donalyn Miller: Game Changer! Book Access For All Kids. Check out my list of AWESOME 2019 Books