Today, I want to tell you about what, in my opinion, creates the perfect classroom library.
Keep in mind that my students are four and five years old. We have some sight words down, but none of them can really read yet (with the exception of S, who is becoming better and better at sounding out words and can usually get 3 out of 5 words right).
My classroom library mostly comes from thrift stores. A lot of books for children are scribbled over or the pages are ripped, but with a little patience, you can usually find a pretty good deal on some great literature. Recently, for example, I found a copy of Make Way for Ducklings that is in PERFECT condition. I do pay full price for books that are really important, or for holidays.
Anyway, here are some of my tips for creating a classroom library.
1. Make sure to actually look inside the book before you purchase it. Four and five year olds are wiggly, talkative balls of energy. They will sit still for a book if the book is engaging. Books with long paragraphs on every page will not hold their attention. The book doesn’t have to rhyme, necessarily, and it doesn’t have to be one sentence per page. Just use your judgement here.
2. Artwork is just as important as the story. Again, they can’t read the book. The pictures, if it is a picture book, need to be eye-catching and detailed. I have bought several books that are really too advanced for my students to read, but have such beautiful and interesting pictures that they will sit and contentedly study the pictures for long periods of time, a feat for any preschool teacher.
3. Variety is important. Similar to my home, my classroom is beginning to become swamped by my book collection. One of the things I love best is that my collection is a hodge podge of books from all different authors and subject areas. I have classics, like The Velveteen Rabbit and some wonderful Little Golden Books, but I also have the more contemporary Llama Llama books by Anna Dewdney. Of course, I have several Dr. Seuss books, and some by authors I have never heard of before.
Those are the best tips I can give you on creating a classroom library. (Of course, this covers only the books to put into your library, not the actual library itself. That’s a post for another day).
I’ll close here with some more information about a few of my students’ favorite books. Enjoy!
Click, Clack Moo:Cows that Type by Doreen Cronin. This is just an awesome book. It’s funny, engaging, has great artwork, and includes a catch phrase that the kids can repeat throughout the book (something that’s great for preschool kids). I read this whenever we add a new student to a classroom, and it’s usually requested once or twice a week. Doreen Cronin has written quite a few other books following these characters, and I hope to eventually add them all.
Thundercake by Patricia Polacco. If I’m being honest, this book is probably a bit ahead of my students’ level. But I’m ambitious, and this is one of my favorite books, so I decided to give it a try anyway. We read it one morning when thunder was rumbling and grumbling outside, and followed it up with a brief science experiment explaining where rain comes from . The kids loved it, and any time it rains they ask me if we can make thunder cake.
Those are our absolute favorites, but a few others include
Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr Seuss
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone
I won’t name them all, but the list also includes all of The Magic School Bus series (we have quite a few of their books- they are too long and involved for my kids, but they love to look at them).
What are your favorite children’s books? Can you add any tips for creating a classroom library?