How the Library works
Whatever and whenever they are reading, kids are practicing their reading! The best guide to helping kids select books from the library is to think about how you like to select books--that's what we want them to do, become life-long readers! (And if you don't like to read much, what could someone have done to encourage you long ago? If you have great ideas, let me know!)
All students in grades 1-5 have the right to select books from the library. The books are not organized by grade level or reading level, so that students can practice the kind of book choice they would have in "the real world." That said, I do everything I can to help kids find a book they will like and actually read! It is so important that kids feel good about being in a library, and feel that their reading choices are valued, even though they may be different than our own!
I do believe that younger students can benefit from looking at books that are "too hard" for them. Non-fiction books have so many illustrations that kids can learn from without reading the words! Sometimes kids also like to carry around a "thick" book because it makes them feel older.
Older students also can benefit from reading books that are "too easy" or that they have read many times before. Books can be like an old friend that you visit again and again, especially when your confidence is flagging. Kids need to feel competent in their reading, and reading should be relaxing and enjoyable--at least when you're on your own time.
For all students who bring their books home:
- Books must be returned so that all students may share them fairly.
- Lost or damaged books must be paid for (or other arrangements made to "make it better")
- If a book is lost and paid for, and then later found, a full refund will be made up to one year. (After one year the money will be used to purchase new library books.)
Here are the rules and routine for each grade level:
Kindergarten-Kindergarten students visit the library once a week for story-time. This is similar to a public library story-time, and may include reading several books, storytelling, acting out stories, watching a video clip that goes along with the theme of the day, or taking turns using iPads and other hands-on "centers." We almost always end class with drawing or writing in response to the stories of the day.
First Grade-First graders come once a week. Class almost always starts with a read-aloud of one or more picture books. The second part of class is independent reading from baskets of books or magazines on the tables, while waiting for a turn to choose a book from the shelves. Finally, students pick one book, check it out at the computer, and return to the tables to read until it's time to go. First grade students do not bring their books home. They have time to look at them during free choice and independent reading time in their classrooms.
Second Grade-Second grade routine is very similar to first grade, except that sometime after Christmas they begin to have the choice to bring their books home. We talk a lot about this beforehand, and many children opt not to bring books home at all--a very grown-up decision. Please help your second grader choose a good place for library books to go in your home!! Think about posting the day that books are due every week on your refrigerator. It's awful for everyone when a child can't choose a new book because the old one is under the bed or in a car.
Third-Fourth-Fifth Grade-Older students have library class every week, and most weeks they have an opportunity to borrow books. 3rd and 4th graders usually choose one book, fifth graders can get two. I begin class with either a read-aloud, or a mini-lesson with a task to do at their tables while they are waiting to get a book. Once a year for each grade, I do a multi-week unit, during which students will not borrow a book during class. Usually arrangements can be made outside of class, if students need to get reading material. Lessons may focus on research and reading skills, media literacy, or digital citizenship. I also try to work with teachers to align my mini-lessons with the reading and writing concepts that students are practicing in their classrooms.
If you have unwanted books in very good condition, consider donating them to the library! (We can only take a box or so at a time, due to lack of storage space.)
Your donations may be used in several ways, depending on the book:
- They may be added to the school library for students to borrow
- They may be put in our Little Free Library book donation box, which is open to all community members to share! You can also make book donations directly to the Little Free Library book box.
- They may also be passed on to classrooms or to individual students who need more books at home