Over the summer I shared with you all some of my favorite classroom resources and things I consider ‘must-haves’ for our primary classrooms. At the *very* top of the list was a library display shelf (Amazon Affiliate links included in this post). Out of all the things on my list, it was the priciest so I hesitated to include it..BUT I just had to. Our library display shelf is one of the main focuses of our classroom and something that is used every.single.day by every single one of my students! Today I wanted to share with you how I use this display shelf.
Why a Bookshelf?
Walking into a 1st grade classroom after a year in 5th grade, I was blessed to receive a library display shelf from my school. Each weekend, I secretly replace the books on the shelf and watch the excitement as my 1st graders walk-in to discover new books. Last year, my friends thought Mo Willems’ Pigeon traded out the books (which was hilarious) and this year, it’s just magic! 😉 Many times our bookshelves match our science or social studies focus, other times I pull the books for specific comprehension mini-lessons, and other times, they are just-for-fun books. A library display shelf is the perfect chance to expose students to books that they might not normally pick-up on their own or might not be able to read on their own. Placing these books on their own shelf inherently adds value to them and tells students – “This book must be great. Ms. W really likes it/wants me to read it!” (To see most of our weekly shelves, search #1stGradeBookshelf on Instagram)
When do students have access to the display shelf?
I’ve replaced Morning Work with partner reading time, so after making lunch choices and getting unpacked, students grab a book (or a book bin) and find a spot to read. Sometimes students will read by themselves but most of the time, the books are difficult enough that it takes 2-3 readers to be able to successfully read and understand the books. Additionally, students are welcome to snag books from the shelf during our Daily 5 block (read to self, read to someone, listening to reading, work on writing), as well as, any time they finish quality work ahead of their peers. My friends know the bookshelf is always open to them, and they love plotting what book they will read next!
With our display shelves, I do expect students to take great care of the books. Students are welcome to grab one book at a time and when they place a book back onto the shelf it needs to go right-side up with the cover facing out. Students are asked not to put these books in their book bins, so all of our friends may enjoy them. Earlier in the Fall, we had several unfortunate incidents of friends being Book Bullies (books stacked on top of each other, book pages torn, books left on the ground) and we found a TERRIBLE note the following week. It hurt our hearts to be bookless and we wrote apology notes to the Book Hospital. Thankfully, that Thursday our books returned to our classroom!
Go-to Themes for Each Month
With the exception of some of our favorite series, our weekly shelves look something like this. I do like to add favorite authors (Mo Willems, Oliver Jeffers, Patricia Polacco, Dr. Suess) and favorite series (Lama Lama, Little Critter, Pigeon, Elephant and Piggie, Fly Guy, Biscuit) into the mix when I am short on or tired of seasonal books.
Where do I get of my the books for the shelves?
Most of the books come from Scholastic Reading Club. I am able to add hundreds of books to our classroom every year using the bonus points my classroom collects! (Learn more about how I maximize Scholastic Reading Club here.) I also love using our school and local libraries for checking-out themes books that I might not have. Additionally, for specific themes that are not as popular on Scholastic or in libraries (i.e. Kentucky Derby), I will purchase used books from Amazon!
What happens to the books when they are not on the display shelf?
While many of the books I pull for our bookshelf stay accessible to students year-round, some don’t. Many pictures books are incredible reads and nothing my students could attempt on their own (i.e. Guided Reading Levels of N and higher). Additionally, some books are so special, I like to personally introduce them to students. For these books, I place them in large Sterilite containers or magazine files from Ikea. Once or so a month, I will pull out a bin for a special “for-grabs-in-book-bin” but most of the time, these books are saved for the just-right moments!
Hands down, our library display shelf is one of my favorite resources in our classroom. It adds so much excitement to our classroom, exposes my friends to many different authors and genres of books, and helps integrate social studies and science into our daily learning.
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