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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy

The Classroom Library Julia Millin

Your classroom library is the heartbeat to the literacy program in your classroom.  The library should serve as a support to the balance literacy curriculum which allows students the opportunity to self select literature.  When setting up the library in the early primary grades, here are a few things to consider. 

  • Libraries should be inviting and eye-catching. 
  • 30% of the library should be leveled, that’s about six leveled book baskets.
  • Books must be easily accessible to the students.
  • Bins must be labeled clearly and color coded.
  • Include plants, cushions, rugs, mats, pillows, and stuffed animals. 
  • Changes should be evident to reflect the work of the class.
  • Organize the books by genre, author, and topic. 
  • Create research centers when studying specific areas in social studies and science.
  • Include rules for use. 
  • Include pictures of your students engaged in reading.
  • Create a listening center for less independent readers and ELL students. 
  • Create a book shopping chart for table groups.
  • Students should have their own book baggies which contain “Just Right Books” as well as a variety of non-leveled books which may of may not be at the child’s independent reading level. 
  • Children should have enough books in the baggies to keep them reading for a week, but not so many that they jump from book to book in an attempt to read them all.
  • Create a bin with the read aloud books you plan to use with a particular unit of study. 

The Primary Literacy Standards state that students should engage with books, either independently or with assistance every day.

  • Grade 1 – Four or more books every day
  • Grade 2 – One or two short books or long chapters every day
  • Grade 3 – 30 chapter books a year

In the primary grades the classroom library serves several functions, and it is the place where most of your students’ learning will take place.  Make it a warm, inviting and accommodating place for all your students and everyone will benefit.

Reference: Growing Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom, Kathy Collins, Stenhouse Publishers, 2004.

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Julia.

See also:
Developing Your Classroom Library by Lisa Peterson



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