Classroom Library: Adding to Your Collection

JUST DISCOVERED: This AMAZING classroom library. From Troy, Michigan! My socks! They have been knocked off!

Who wouldn't want to select a good-fit book from this collection?

To view previous posts in this series, click below.

Classroom Library Part 1: Supplies
Classroom Library Part 2: Getting Started
Classroom Library Part 3: Filling the Shelves
Classroom Library Part 4: Library Upkeep

Your classroom library is awesome. Your kids are taking great care of it. How can you add new books without having the whole system fall apart?

Keep your supplies ready and nearby. I have a bucket (and you KNOW by now that it’s a Sterilite Ultra basket) that I keep filled with extra pockets, index cards, labels, and pens. The only extra step I need to make outside of the classroom when adding books is steal down to the library to borrow some AR tape.

Lolrus knows the value of a bucket.
Lolrus knows the value of a bucket.

Add quality books. Chances are, you have a lot of books. Unless you’re a brand new teacher, in which case you should get thee with all possible haste to a library book sale! So now that you’re past just filling the shelves, make sure you’re adding quality books. New books, unusual books, books you don’t have at the school library. Non-fiction books. Almanacs and books of facts. The vast number of children’s literature blogs is truly insane, so I just started reading Betsy Bird’s fantastic Fuse #8 Production and added from there.

Talk with your students about new additions. We’ve been reading a lot of recently published books checked out from the Seattle Public Library this year. The day before the ALA Awards are announced, we’ll hold a Mock Caldecott and I’ll buy the top three books to add to our classroom library.

Don’t be afraid to edit. Even with the best treatment, books get worn. Series become less popular. Non-fiction books become dated. You start to realize that the books you snapped up for crazy-cheap your first year of teaching haven’t been checked out since… your first year of teaching, if ever. Pass them on! If I pull a book from our classroom library, I cross out my name from the inside (but keep the pocket and card, of course) and put it in our staff room. If it doesn’t find a new home in a month, I take the books to Goodwill or the Seattle Public Library. Yes, I probably could sell the books on Craigslist or Amazon Marketplace, but I’d rather support the aforementioned nonprofits.

Please feel free to share and use this information as you see fit. If you’re able to take a moment to leave a comment, though, it completely makes my day and my students usually squeal with delight.


4 thoughts on “Classroom Library: Adding to Your Collection”

  1. Shannon,
    What would you recommend for someone who doesn’t have time to read through their classroom library, but wants to have a better sense of what kids are reading and what they could be recommending?

    Love the resource you’ve provided here. I always find a new idea or two.

    1. Anne,

      Thanks! My dirty little over-achiever secret is that I actually haven’t read tons of the books in my classroom library, I just fake it really well. :) I recommend books to my kids with confidence, and they usually believe me. For example, I’ve found that if I have a kid who’s reading books that are too difficult for them, I can recommend a slightly easier book to them and they won’t shy away from it as much. So take your best guess at a book based on the cover or the synopsis on the back. Seriously.

      Here are my top three resources for learning more about books and new resources without expending a ton of energy:
      1) Elizabeth Bird’s excellent blog
      2) I think every teacher should read “Jim Trelease’s Read-Aloud Handbook.” Trelease does an excellent job of tying books together and recommending similar books.
      3) Esme Codell, as much as I despise her personality, has a nice resource for recommending books based on kids’ likes. It’s called “How to get your Child to Love Reading.”

      And if I got a bonus book to recommend, it would definitely be Strategies That Work. The appendix of resources in the back is brilliant.


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