Look Inside the Creation of a Classroom Library

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You know the best way to get your students to read is to provide them with books they want and a way to make those books easily accessible. 

The experts agree.

In a study published in the Journal of Language & Literacy Education, researchers confirmed that “more access to books results in more reading.” And it’s not just access to books in general that is important: access to the titles students are interested in reading can lead to long-term success. Authors Stephanie Harvey and Annie Ward reviewed four decades of research in their book, From Striving to Thriving: How to Grow Confident, Capable Readers, and found that “voluminous, pleasurable reading is key to literacy development.”

Knowing that information, how do you provide your students with access to engaging books? The answer: a classroom library.

Data from a number of education experts, such as Nancie Atwell in her book The Reading Zone and Kelly Gallagher in Readicide, has demonstrated that classroom libraries are important for all ages. Furthermore, researchers have found that children who have access to classroom libraries read up to 60% more than students who do not. And then there’s the ongoing debate over the benefits of physical books and their digital counterparts, in which physical books remain the best choice for developing students’ reading and comprehension.

But recognizing the need for a library in your classroom is just step one. Now it’s time for the bigger move: finding the right books for your students. Booksource is here to help with our complete classroom library collections available by grade level. Each collection is available in sets of 300 or 500 titles and includes books carefully selected by our classroom reading experts and that cover a variety of genres, topics and social issues.

To give you confidence that the books in these collections will engage your class, let’s look behind the scenes at how our experts build each library collection.


Building a Classroom Library

Step 1: Determining the Number of Titles
Offering our classroom library collections in sets of 300 or 500 titles is not an arbitrary choice. In a journal article published in The Reading Teacher, authors Jann Sorrell Fractor and others noted that a well-established classroom library should have at least 10 books per child, with no less than 100. Furthermore, research from the International Literacy Association and Richard Allington’s What Really Matters book series put the suggested number of books at 300-500.

Recognizing the invaluable importance of variety in book collections, each 300-title Booksource classroom library collection features an abundance of title options in eight different focus areas: 
  • Favorites - Fiction and nonfiction titles that are popular amongst students and educators;
  • New Books – Fresh, new titles that students want to read;
  • Popular Series – Book series featuring characters and stories that students love;
  • Genre & Thematic Texts – Fiction books covering many different genres kids enjoy, such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction and more;
  • Knowledge Building – Educational texts covering core subjects like Science, Social Studies and Math;
  • Poetry – Collections that introduce students to non-traditional storytelling through poems;
  • Biography & Memoir – Informational accounts of the people who have shaped history;
  • Reference Texts – Directions on using a table of contents, index and other common reference material features. 

Our 500-title expanded libraries include all books from those eight focus areas plus others, such as High/Low and additional favorites. Furthermore, Booksource provides 100-title refresher collections to supplement your current library.

Step 2: Choosing Titles 
Knowing the number of books we want in each collection and the areas of focus is only part of the process. How do our classroom reading experts choose the actual titles that will make up each collection? First, our methodology for creating classroom libraries comes from research presented in industry publications such as Reading Research Quarterly, Reading Teacher, Reading Today, School Library Journal and Educational Leadership. Second, our Collection Development team, who leads the creation of each collection and includes members who hold master’s degrees in library and information science, stay current with industry and educational trends, professional books, webinars, blogs, podcasts and professional publications. 

Third, when selecting titles, we take into account several considerations, including:

  • Appropriate Selections - Every book should make sense for the collection(s) in which it is included. Interest level, readability, page count, thematic and genre characteristics, content and focus of the collection are all taken into consideration when selecting titles. Furthermore, we know that your classroom does not exist in a bubble and your students and their choices can be impacted by outside events. We stay up to date on news, current events and trends and can select books most appropriate to the current climate.
  • Budget-Friendly - Booksource works hard to save you time and money. While focusing on new titles, we strive for collections to include significantly more paperback titles than costly hardcovers. We also make sure each collection offers the highest quality books that are durable and can handle repeated use.
  • Compelling Stories – We select titles that are rich in content with cross-curricular opportunities, knowing stories are often the first medium in which students explore their own values. To do this effectively, they must encounter texts that have rich content with positive social values.
  • Diversity and Inclusivity - All collections are curated with inclusion and representation in mind. And while race may be what many people think of in terms of diversity, we also consider diversity in gender, abilities, socio-economic status, orientation, cultural experience and global perspectives. We follow the lead of renowned educator, Rudine Sims Bishop, who said, “Books are mirrors when readers see their own lives reflected in the pages. Books are windows when they allow readers a view of lives and stories that are different from their own. Books become sliding glass doors when readers feel transported into the world of the story and when they feel empathy for the characters.”
  • The Right Books for All– To ensure students have the books just right for them, we choose titles with a wide range of readability. Our collections account for all different types of readers and include selections for on- and below-benchmark readers, as well as the range of learning growth that occurs from the beginning of the school year to the end.
  • New Releases – We make staying informed on publishing and education trends a top priority. We love introducing customers to great, recently published titles while keeping the proven favorites available. Plus, we recognize recent copyright dates are even more important in nonfiction collections, as science and technology continue to evolve.  
  • Popularity – Of course learning is important, but we also believe reading should be fun. Our classroom library collections contain titles that we know resonate with students and are popular because of their storylines or characters. We also proudly work with top publishers and authors and know which ones are favored by students and educators.
  • Variety - Student choice is key to reading engagement. We look for opportunities to include high-interest topics and texts that use a variety of formats, such as chapter books, graphic novels, poetry and picture books. 

Step 3: Keeping Collections Relevant
Our extensive list of considerations guides us as we curate collections for classrooms in all different grade levels and communities, but our work doesn’t stop once we have a collection in place. All year long, our classroom reading experts meet with publishers to see what’s coming soon, read news reports and reviews, and read new books to make sure they are relevant, appropriate and timely. Plus, our collections undergo an annual review and refresh so new titles are consistently added and outdated materials are removed.

Step 4: Customizing Collections
While we are certain our classroom library collections will fit your students’ needs, we want them to be more than just suitable: we want them to be perfect for your classroom. Booksource’s proprietary collection and curation system allows our Literacy Accounts Managers to work with educators to customize collections to their district specifications. We can swap out titles for others and make expert recommendations to ensure the books in your library are the ones you and your students want.

Contact Us to Customize a Collection Now

Bonus: Managing Your Classroom Library
Once your classroom library is complete, you have the power to keep it updated and appropriate for your students. Booksource Classroom® is our free management tool that helps you maintain an online inventory of your classroom library books. Powered by our robust title data, Booksource Classroom also evaluates your titles and analyzes student reading trends to provide helpful reports and insights. Additionally, Booksource Classroom features LibraryLens, which allows you to quickly identify any gaps in your collection and recommends titles to fill.  

Get Booksource Classroom

Find Your Classroom Library Collection
The library collection for your classroom is waiting for you now. Check out our offerings by grade level or reach out to a classroom reading expert to customize yours.

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