Today I want to talk about classroom libraries. I am a huge lover of books, especially children's books! I mean, honestly, what teacher doesn't love books?! When I decided to go into education, I was extremely disappointed to find out that my mom had gotten rid of all my children's books from growing up! Who would have known her little girl would have needed all of those wonderful books as an adult!? Well, since I had a non-existing collection, I started to build my library in college by purchasing books from Scholastic book orders my professors distributed in class. I may or may not have gone a little
Then, I found out about my local public library's book sale that they have a few times a year. At this book sale, they sell discarded children's books for 25 cents for paperbacks and 50 cents for hardbacks. UH, HELLO! I LOVE CHEAP THINGS! My first sale I went completely crazy and my mom (who graciously went with me) thought I was crazy, too! When we got home, my mom had the best idea ever! She decided I needed to start making a list of all books I had so I could have some type of reference to my quickly growing collection. She started entering all of my books into Excel, listing the title and author. So, every time I picked up a new stack of books, her or I would just enter the new titles and VOILA! I knew exactly which books I had.
When I started teaching middle school reading, students were constantly asking me the Accelerated Reading levels and point values of books from my shelf. After awhile, I finally decided I would enter those values into my spread sheet. So, I spent a good week or so entering every title into the Accelerated Reader database to get the reading level and test point value of each book. Then, when I got new books, I just simply updated the list and looked up the information. So, when a student asked, I just searched the book in my spreadsheet. It was starting to be a real slick system.
Towards the end of the year, I had the idea of making spine labels for all of my books that had the 3 letters of the author's last name, reading level, and point value. I didn't get too far in this process. I have recently bought my first home, and am slowly taking school things from my mom's house to bring to my house. I don't want to bring too much though, because I know it will just be moved again into my new room next month! (EEEK! NEXT MONTH!) Well, yesterday, I stumbled upon my labels, and have decided to make it my goal to finish writing out all labels for all...wait for it...691 BOOKS! Well, actually I only need labels for 499, because those are the number of books I have that have AR tests. Also, I had 3 students lose a book each at the end of the year, so really 496! :) Obviously, after teaching middle school, not all of my books will be appropriate for 3rd graders, but I still want to do them all in case I switch grades in the distant future.
Which brings me to a question...What do you think about having students take classroom library books home? I was okay with middle schoolers, because I thought they would be responsible. They did pretty well; I'm only missing 3 of my books (that I know of). However, 7 and 8 year olds are a totally different ball game. I want them to take books home, especially if they are interested in them! However, I don't want to keep buying books over and over again to replace lost or damaged ones. We all know how big teachers' salaries are. So what are your thoughts?
Also, what are you going to use or do you already use for your classroom library?
Next, I have to tell you about my latest book purchase from Barnes and Noble. It was recommended to me by the cashier... The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt.
It is an adorable story of a boy named Duncan who goes to open his box of crayons, only to find a stack of letters written by the crayons. Each letter is written by an individual crayon who feels over worked, under appreciated, neglected, etc. The illustrations are child like and the story tells a great message. If you haven't seen this book, you must check it out! I plan on reading it the first day of school, then bringing it back later for a writing project! :) Also, if you don't already have one, you should get an Educators card from Barnes and Noble. It is completely free and you get 20% off your purchases for your classroom, including toys and games. There are some exclusions, but I always purchase books so I haven't ran into any yet.
If you've made it through all of this post, WHEW, good for you! Thank you for reading! Don't forget to comment your thoughts and ideas! We're all in this together!