The First 10 Books I Read My Fifth Graders

I’m having a ton of fun with my new class. In the video below, I talk about the first ten picture books that I read them aloud.

I’d love to know the books you’ve been reading your kids. Let me know in the comments below!

The Book of Mistakes:

The Day You Begin:

After the Fall:

Last Stop on Market Street:

The Very Last Castle:

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole:

Be Who You Are:

The Story of Fish & Snail:

What If… :

Books My Students Are Reading | August 2019

In this video I share all the current read of each one of my fifth graders. They are reading some pretty awesome books! I’ll try to record one of these each month for the duration of the school year.

Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids:

The Creativity Project edited by Colby Sharp (ME!)

Places to find me:




I started a newsletter! Click below to sign up.

Thanks for watching. Please me know if I can help you in any way.

Keep Track of the Books We Need

Classroom (3).png

The second day of school was so much fun. It was our first full day, and time moved at warp speed. During independent reading I had the opportunity to chat with a handful of my readers. It was fun to talk to one of my readers about his passion for manga. His cousin introduced him to it a few months ago, and he is all in. He’s hoping to create manga for a living when he grows up. How cool is that? Had another great conversation with a kid reading Janet and Jake Tashijan’s My Life as a Ninja. He informed me that I was missing some of the books in the series. He was right!

In my lesson plan notebook, I keep a list of all the books I need to buy for my classroom library. It seemed like each kid I talked to today, gave me ideas for books I needed to purchase for our library. Our district gives us $250 a year for our classroom library. Most of that money will go towards purchasing books on this list. If I was just starting out with my classroom library, I would probably use the money before the kids came, but with all the books we have, I am lucky enough to be able to wait to see what the kids want before purchasing books. The list also comes in handy during our book fair, when I am ordering books through Scholastic Reading Club, and when I find myself in an independent bookstore.

Kids are much more likely to read when they are surrounded by the books they want to read. The best way to get these books into their hands is to talk to them, get to know them, notice what they are reading, notice what they aren’t reading, and just flat out ask them what books they need in their classroom library.


One thing that I just realized is that I haven’t been writing down which kid helped me decide that we needed each book. I’ll add that when I get to school. It will be weeks or even months until I get some of these books. I want to make sure that I get it into the hands of the reader that encouraged me to buy the book.

I hope this post is helpful. If you have any classroom library questions, please shoot them my way. I may not have the answer, but working through classroom library problems is so much fun!

The First Day of School

Classroom (2)

The first day of school was magical. It brings me tremendous joy to see how excited our kids are to be at school, and how comfortable they were from the moment they walked into our classroom.

Tons of kids got to school super early, so our principal decided to let them come down to their classrooms a few minutes before they normally do. It was fun seeing them bring all their school supplies into the classroom, reconnect with friends, and select their seats. A couple of kids, who appeared to be great friends, moseyed over to the classroom library. The flipped through some baskets, and they both left with a copy of Roller Girl. I asked them if they had read it before they nodded. In my lesson plan book, I wrote: don’t forget to book talk Victoria’s Alls Faire in Middle School.

We did a couple of team building activities to start the day which the kids seemed to like. Trying to learn their names stressed me out. I’m so bad at it!

Usually, on the first day of school I walk the students through the library. I talk about our labeling system, organization, and different ways to find the books they want to read. I thought it might be fun to just turn them loose today, so that is what I did. They just needed to do two things:

1. find a book to read

2. pay attention to what they noticed about the library

It took 3 minutes and 23 seconds for each reader to find a book. Two kids even asked to get the book they brought from home out of their locker (HOORAY!!!!!).

I quickly walked around to see what everyone had selected. This is what I found.

13 kids were reading graphic novels

5 fantasy

6 realistic fiction

3 nonfiction

2 historical fiction

No surprises there!

One reader asked me if we had any copies of Hilo. I walked her over to the graphic novel section of the library, and this happened (see below).

Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 9.45.12 PM

We sort of just rolled with it. I quickly picked up the books, and placed them in a new spot. It was much easier to find a copy of Hilo with all the graphic novels laying around on the floor. One thing that I did realize was that we are missing a couple of books in the series. I’ll add them to our first order. What I will most likely do is just order a new set of them. You can never have enough copies of Hilo.

Once everyone was settled with their book, I let them know that we were going to try and read for seven minutes. They did great! Not much moving around, not a lot of kids going back to the library. The room was filled with kids reading. Hopefully, it will be like this every day. We’ll gradually increase the time as we go.

I was able to talk to 5 or 6 readers as I walked around the room. The biggest thing that I took away from those conversations is that the kids are excited to be in a room filled with books. Most of their book choices were based on authors/series that they had read in the past. It was exciting to see that they are coming to me with a lot of great reading habits already.

After their eight minutes of reading, I called them to the carpet. We were suppose to stop at 7, but I got distracted talking to a kid about Dav Pilkey. With the class gathered together at the carpet, I asked them to share what they noticed about the classroom library. Their responses blew me away. Pretty much everything I usually talk about when introducing the classroom library was brought up, but instead of me having to tell them about those things, they discovered them on their own. Below you will find the list of things that came up during our conversation. As they said these things, I wrote them down on our easel. Each thing they noticed led to a conversation that deepened their understand of our classroom library, and the beliefs about reading that we hold in our classroom.

Screen Shot 2019-08-22 at 5.27.09 AM.png

The first day was great. A lot to build on, and a handful of things to work on. I have some books I need to buy, a book shelf I need to fix, and a bunch of kids names that I need to learn. Looking forward to getting back to work!

Meet The Teacher Night

Classroom (2)

Last night, I met many of my students for the first time. Each year we host a “Meet The Teacher” event the night before school starts. Getting a chance to talk with my new kids and their families is so much fun, and a little overwhelming. I had seen many of these kids in the hallway the last few years, but I had no idea who they were. Most of them came up to me during our meet the teacher night and introduced themselves (with the help of their parents). Some were nervous, some were excited, some seemed terrified.

I paid close attention to our classroom library during the evening. The first interaction in the space came when one of my students, from last year, stopped by to drop off all the books she borrowed and read over the summer. She wanted to put the books back in the library for me. I asked her if I could snap a picture first (below).

Screen Shot 2019-08-20 at 11.01.18 PM.png

As the room began to fill with families, I noticed that so many of my kids’ parents were drawn to the library. They looked the library up and down as they walked around the room. I think the amount of space dedicated to books helped them realize just how much we value reading in my classroom.

One of my students from last year walked in with her sister. I have her sister this year. Instead of coming up to me to say hi, they headed to the library. My former student was showing her sister (my current student) our large selection of graphic novels. I walked over and introduced myself. They were polite, but they quickly turned their attention back to the books.

I made my way around the room, trying to set some of the kids that looked nervous at ease. As I headed for the front of the room, I noticed a boy reading at one of my tables. I had never seen this kid before. Wondering if he was new, I introduced myself to his mother and father. The boy never looked up. His mom called his name. He put one finger in the air, signaling that he just needed to finish the page. He looked up and said hi. I introduced myself, and I asked him about the book he had taken from our classroom library. “I don’t know this series. It’s called Timmy Failure. Have you read it?”

I smiled. “I have read it. It is really good. My son read the whole series when he was in fifth grade. Would you like to take Book 1 home with you? You can bring it back tomorrow or just keep it at home until you finish it.” He nodded.

“Does he need to check it out?” his father asked.

“Nope. I know that he’ll bring it back. He’ll probably want to borrow the next one when he finishes this one.” The boy smiled, tucked the book under his arm, and shook my hand. I like that his first interaction with anyone at his new school resulted in him being able to borrow a book.

After meet the teacher night, I noticed my fourth grade daughter cuddled up on one of my classroom couches, reading Bird & Squirrel On The Edge. “Ready, Love?” I asked.

“Yup.” she said not looking up from her book. “I’ll bring this book back when I’m done. Let’s go home dad. School starts tomorrow.”

I smiled, grabbed my bag, shut the lights off, and left my room excited to see what awaits us in the morning.

Classroom Library Today: A Tub on the Floor

Classroom (2)

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.


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.


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. 

5 Classroom Library Tweaks

For a classroom library to be effective it must be treated as if it is a living organism. A library that doesn’t evolve with your students probably isn’t going to be very effective for very long. My classroom library has changed a ton the first 100 days of the school year (We haven’t actually had 100 days of school, I just like that nice round number). In the video below I share 5 ways in which the library has changed based on the needs of my readers.

Below you’ll find my classroom library tour video from the start of the school year.

I’d love to know how your classroom/school library has changed so far during the school year. Please let me know in the comments below!


The Creativity Project ARCs Have Arrived | VLOG

It was very exciting to open a box of advanced reader copies of my book The Creativity Project in my classroom. I gave a copy to my principal and Margie Culver. They asked me to sign their books!

The 9th day of school was wonderful. We have a bunch of testing to do the next couple of days, so I tried my best to soak up each and every minute with my students yesterday.

Check out my previous VLOGS below. So far I’ve vlogged each day of the school year (EXHAUSTING).

Our Classroom Is A Hot Mess | VLOG

Day 8

Has something new in your classroom ever caused you to move just about everything around? That happened to me yesterday, and it resulted in the room becoming pretty wild messy. Eight days in and we’re still trying to figure out how to make the room work for us.

Check out my other classroom VLOGS.

My new series: One Question With Mr. Sharp