Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Classroom Library Redo! Part 1: Purging and Restocking Your Classroom Library

 This is part one of a two post series.  

I have always loved having a big class library. It has really  helped me create readers out of my most reluctant students. But, over the years I realized that I had been lazy and sort of let my library go.  It  really hit home when I went to a workshop by Donalyn Miller and read her book Reading in the Wild. Holy Moly! If you read it, be prepared to look at your class library with new eyes and be compelled to improve things! It was this quote that really made me rethink my library:

  ". . . remember why we build classroom libraries 
in the first place: so our students will fall in love with reading and find the right book at the right time. We cannot offer our students meaningful              book access with damaged, outdated, 
or uninteresting materials." (p. 86)

Yes, a lot of my library was MUSTIE.  MUSTIE is Donalyn's acronym for the six factors librarians use when removing books from their collections.   Essentially, MUSTIE asks if your books are Misleading (contain information that is no longer accurate), Ugly (torn, ripped, yellowed, etc,), Superseded (having older copies of books that are often updated), Trivial (books that don't engage most of your readers), Irrelevant (outdated, no longer popular), or can be found Elsewhere.  I really suggest you read her book, especially chapter 2: Curating a Classroom Library, where Donalyn goes in to much more detail.  Using the MUSTIE criteria, I did a huge purge of books in June, at the end of last school year.  I ended up pulling about 275 books.   These are just some.

Once I had all the books pulled, I let my students take home as many as they wanted.  Honestly, I had kids coming from classes I don't even teach asking for books.  Anyone that asked for a book got at least one. I even had kids taking books home for siblings. I realized this when one of my toughest boys was holding on to a fairy tale story book. When I asked and he explained it was for his little sister, I wanted to give him a huge hug.  Of course, I couldn't because that would totally have messed with his tough guy image! It was so great to send kids home with books they wanted to read over summer vacation.

I then spent the summer restocking. Books are everywhere! And, you don't have to spend a fortune to restock. You can go to a thrift store.  Thy always have a children's book section.  I went to library book sales and got these goodies below. Books at my local library run from $0.25 to $2.00.  I would say most of the books I purchased were about $0.50 each.  When buying used books, just keep in mind that it should look fairly new and be relevant to your readers.  Don't purchase more MUSTIE books to replace the MUSTIE books you've purged!

I ordered way too many books (That's not all of them by far!) from Amazon using points instead of cash.  This is great for getting newer, popular, and more current books.
(By the way, The One and Only Ivan?  I cried from the middle of the book to the end!  One of the best children's books I've read in a while.)

Finally, the last thing I did to restock my library was to go to the Scholastic Warehouse Book Sale where they had great deals.  There were dollar tables, and they offered Build a Box where you could stuff as many books in a box as possible for $25.  Th warehouse by me is having its next big sale in December.  I suggest clicking the link and seeing if there is a warehouse near you.

There are still many other sources for stocking your classroom library inexpensively:  
  • Ask parents!  You can send a flyer home with an upper grade class asking parents if they would like to donate any books their child may have outgrown. If there aren't younger siblings at home, you will probably have parents happy to donate when they know it is helping their child's school.
  • Facebook:  Many communities have online garage sales where people will post items they want to sell. Also, just putting the call out there on your personal page that you are seeking donations for your classroom library will often bring forward people who have books to give but just didn't think about it.  Of course, this works best when all your FB friends aren't teachers!
  • Ebay.  When searching for books, don't just look for one particular book.  I find I get more results when searching in the children's book category for "book lot." This way you get auctions for several books that are generally on the same level instead of individual titles. A couple of years ago I had a student that refused to read anything. Flat out refused to read.  Finally, I was able to interst him in the Bone graphic novels.  He liked the first one and said he would like to read another. Our school library didn't have it, so I was able to go on Ebay and purchase several books in the series for a fraction of what they would have cost anywhere else.  It was money I was happy to part with because my friend ended up reading all the books!
  • Craigslist:  I haven't used this myself for books, but I do see them listed.
  • Scholastic has an article on Ten Easy Ways to Get Books for Your Classroom Library.  It's an older article and some ideas I've suggested, but there are some others that might work for you.
  • Finally, this post from The Nerdy Book Club has lots of great ideas!
So, heading back to prep my room at the end of August with boxes of books turned in to quite a job! My library is sorted by level and by genre. Most of my books are leveled, even if they are not in a leveled basket.  One of the easiest ways I've found to do this is to mark the book level on the bottom of the book. It is not seen by all and then the book can be in the leveled baskets or the genre baskets. I have to say though that I am not a believer that a child should be tethered to certain books because of levels.  My students are allowed pick books that interest them. We use the reading levels more for guided reading instruction.  But, for this to work, you really need to be tuned in to what your friends are reading and how it is going.

This is posting on Tuesday morning.  After school this Tuesday afternoon I am planning to do a Periscope tour of my finished classroom library, sometime between 4-5 PM EST if you want to watch.  Connection is always a little sketchy in my classroom, but hopefully it will work and I can do the tour. The second post in this series is the Classroom Library Redo Part 2: Organization and Excitement!  This post will show you finished pictures of my library, how it is organized, my circulation procedures, and some extra tips on helping your students make the most of the library. If the Periscope tour works out, I will embed it in the post which should be up in a day or two at the longest.

Hopefully, you found this first part helpful.  Check back for part 2!
As always, thanks for reading!


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