Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thinking About the Kindergarten Classroom Library

Classroom Library
in Kindergarten

Amy and I started sorting books the other day for our classroom library. We want to start the year with some baskets already sorted so that our students start to think about how to find and choose a 'Just Right' book. We don't want to overwhelm them with 25 book baskets and 200 books! So...How many baskets do we put out? Which baskets do we put out? Which books do we put in the baskets? Of course it's much easier to make those decisions once you know your students, but to get us started until we do know our students we need to consider....some of our students come to kindergarten being able to read while others have very little experience with books, most young children love animals, they are attracted to books that are visually interesting, but not so cluttered that they don't know where to look. We want them to be actively involved with the books they choose from the library and to be able to start to independently expect and create “story” using what they know about how a story works, the words, illustrations, and retelling stories that are familiar to them. We need to create a library that makes our students feel like readers right away!
Some of the baskets we created are...
  • Alphabet Books: Jerry Pallotta books that are themed (Icky Bug, Dinosaur, Ocean, etc.) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr, and Archambault), Eating the Alphabet (Lois Ehlert), The Alphabet Tree (Leo Lionni), Tomorrow's Alphabet (George Shannon), The Handmade Alphabet (Laura Rankin),Toot and Puddle's ABC (Hobbie) This is a good read aloud to then add to baskets-- goes along with writing your name and your friend's name! LMNO peas (Baker), Z is for Moose (Bingham)
  • Number Books: Five Little Monkeys (Christelow), 10 Black Dots (Crews), Ten Nine Eight (Bang), Anno's Counting Book (Mitsumasa), This Old Man, Roll Over (Traditional Rhymes—they can start matching print to what they already know!), 10 Minutes Till Bedtime (Rathmann), 10 Little Caterpillars (Bill Martin Jr.)
  • Eric Carle: The Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouch LadyBug, 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo, The Very Busy Spider... Many of our students are familiar with these stories and love the illustrations. These books really support our students as developing readers.
  • Animals:(both fiction and nonfiction) After the first few weeks of school we will use this basket to help us start to think about informational books vs fictional stories... Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Bill Martin Jr.), Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails (Tafuri), Llama Llama Mad at Mama (Dewdney), Llama Llama Misses Mama, Yip! Snap! Yap! (Fuge)
  • David Shannon: No David, David Goes to School
  • Dr. Seuss Books: One Fish Two Fish, ABC,
  • Mo Willems Books: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, Knuffle Bunny, Elephant and Piggie Books (we will read a lot of these books as read alouds—always the most popular basket!)
  • Big Machines: Demolition (Sutton)

We will start to create some general baskets so that our students can start thinking about how we might sort them to make them easier to find. Young students love non fiction and science topics. We will have a wonder center (table) in our classroom that will always include a basket of books that go along with the kinds of things that are on the wonder table and with some books that may give our kids new ideas of what to bring in for the wonder table! Early in the year there will be lots of books about Life Cycles—such as caterpillars, frogs, trees, etc.
    • Science Books
    • Family/Friends/School
    • Realistic Fiction
    • Holidays/Seasons
Introducing the Classroom Library:
The Library will be an important part of the classroom in lots of ways. It will serve as a center as part of the workboard every day and will be one of the most important places our students start to interact with books. It will also be a place where students develop the language they need to talk about books with their friends and really enjoy books and reading. We will spend a lot of time all year modeling and practicing being readers.
  • At first we will let students explore the baskets available in the library and talk about what they discovered. This will give them a chance to look at books and think about how they may be grouped together.
  • We'll talk about why the books are grouped together to get us thinking about how that helps us to choose 'just right' books.
  • We'll talk about and practice how to 'read' the books we choose and how important illustrations are and the kinds of things we notice in books that help us understand what the author is trying to tell us (we'll notice the bold print, single words authors choose to show us noises animals are making or things people may be saying in bubbles, and how illustrations can help us think about so much of the story that we wouldn't know if we weren't paying attention, and how we can retell the stories we've heard as read aloud or songs and rhymes we already know).
  • We'll practice choosing books and talking about the ones we love and why we love them and also about the ones that just aren't working for us and that it's ok to put them back and find another one!
  • Amy and I will spend time reading with kids in the library and modeling some of the same kinds of things that we want kids to take on.
  • As we watch our kids grow as readers we will continue to design mini lessons around the kinds of things they need to keep growing.

I love young readers and their excitement over all the things they discover! It's really important that as teachers we continue to make sure our kids are enaging with text and not beginning the 'fake reading' that plagues our older kids when they disengage with text. Observation, conversation, and continuing to help our kids find books they love will help them to stay engaged as readers!   


  1. A stimulating post. Good attention to the kids. This approach seems "scaleable" or "portable" -- able to move from one age group to another. My college kids, for example, need these same steps:

    • A chance to look at books and think about how they may be grouped together (genre, discipline, purpose) and talk about that
    • Talk about and practice how to read the books-- rather than just assign it as "information"
    • Practice choosing books and talking about the ones we love (making reading real for everyone; reading is not something we do TO the students, but something we do WITH them, as fellow readers)
    • Time reading with kids (time set aside in class for actual reading and reading aloud)
    • Watch our kids grow (rather than just figuring out how to grade them)

    Thanks! David

  2. I love your thinking here! I have SO many books, and I agree that it can be very overwhelming to present the kiddos with oodles of books on day one. Thank you for inspiring me to thoughtfully plan out which baskets I am going to open the year with in my library. I also put baskets of content related books in our science, math, dramatic play, etc. areas and random books in baskets throughout the classroom so kids can browse while they are in any part of the room. I like having an established classroom library space, but also to have books everywhere in the classroom. Thank you for sharing your thinking!