Setting up a classroom library that is fun, inviting and cozy helps kids get excited to read and supports literacy instruction. A well-stocked classroom library provides a central location for classroom resources, serves as a place for students to talk about and interact with books, and helps your students learn about books and authors’ craft. Here are ten fun tips for making your classroom library the most special space in your classroom, including a few amazing new technologies from our friends at Library Ideas that your students will love.
1. Create a magical setting.
Make your classroom library an inviting, cozy spot for your students to curl up with a good book. Include comfy seating like bean bag chairs or one of these DIY versions, a soft rug and twinkle lights. Include a basket of noise-canceling headphones so kids can really focus. Most importantly, create a clearly organized system that makes it easy for kids to browse for one of their favorites or something new so they can spend time reading, not looking.
2. Customize your collection.
Classroom readers are a diverse lot. Get to know your students’ reading preferences by taking a quick survey. Show your students that the library is made for them by featuring their favorites. Be sure to include a variety of both fiction and nonfiction books in your collection, along with a variety of genres and authors. Invest in book sets of popular books for your grade so kids can read them with their friends.
3. Make listening part of the experience.
Imagine your students sitting down to read a book and having it read to them. VOX Books are printed books that come with a unique, permanently attached audio reader attached. No tapes, CDs, tablets or apps to mess with. Real, actual books that come with professional audio narration- kids love them! In fact, studies show that VOX Books users improve their reading comprehension by 75% and reading accuracy by over 50%.
4. Promote diverse books.
Source: We Are Kit Lit Collective
Students learn so much about the world through books, including the beautiful diversity of the human race. The world is a diverse place and it’s so important for children to read books that reflect their lives, families, communities, and cultures. Your classroom library should reflect who your students are and broaden their definitions of who they can be. Learn how to build a more equitable and diverse classroom library that includes racial representation, language diversity, geographic diversity, family structures, LGBTQ representation and much more.
5. Keep it fresh.
Source: The Core Inspiration
Rotate book bins all year long to keep your library fresh. Rearrange books into different categories. Try grouping books by topic and include different genres. For instance, have a “baseball” bin and include biographies of famous players, fiction stories that revolve around the game, a how-to book and a nonfiction book that tells the history of the game. Kids tend to gravitate toward the same section of the library every time. By mixing it up occasionally, kids can find books they’ve never seen or considered before.
6. Immerse young readers in the narrative.
For younger readers (age 3-8), try the innovative children’s book app iVOX. iVOX uses the latest in storytelling technology to allow young readers to follow along with the story while interacting with the characters and scenes in a whole new way—kind of like an animated version of a read-aloud. Seeing the story come alive will delight and engage curious young minds and serve as a powerful motivational tool. The iVOX app can also be used as a powerful tool for remote learning.
7. Ramp up the excitement.
Get your students hyped up about the classroom library by creating an air of excitement around it. At the beginning of the year, unveil the library slowly, section by section. Stage a library scavenger hunt using these punch cards. Hold a March Madness reading activity. Create a giant tree out of twisted sections of brown craft paper and watch it bloom throughout the year as students add a leaf for every book they read.
8. Give your students a chance to shine.
Source: Learning to the Core
Empower your students as reading experts. There are so many fun ways for kids to share what they’re reading and recommend books to each other. Post a bulletin board titled “What We’re Reading” with space for students to add titles. Provide an index card file box and colorful report slips for readers to write down their recommendations. Make time in your schedule for student book talks. Try one of these great book report ideas.
9. Bring in unexpected technology.
Check out these amazing IR Books. They are the first of their kind to combine cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality technology with traditional children’s books. These immersive reality books come embedded with a QR code that readers access with a VR headset to explore the concepts in the book more deeply. Talk about getting kids excited about reading!
10. Give them ownership of the space.
Source: Bristol Academy
Encourage your students’ love of books by empowering them to participate in taking care of the classroom library. Assign a librarian of the week or create a library lovers committee to keep it running at full speed. Ask for volunteers to shelve and organize books, monitor your check-out system, and man the book hospital.