Ten Things I Took Away from It’s All About The Books
April 20, 2018
Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan’s new book, It’s All about the Books is a wake up call to every elementary classroom, school book room, literacy specialist, and administrator. Buy more books and figure out how to redistribute the books you have so that every book is getting into the hands of students.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned or been reminded of by this amazing book.
How many guided reading sets do we need?
Break up the guided reading sets and make them into more interesting groupings. Keep the sets that will help teachers teach specific genres or specific skills in strategy groups.
Level, but don’t make it about the level
It’s true at the beginning reading levels, students should and need to be reading at level. However, making the level how we identify books, identifies readers too. Those kiddos don’t want to read an ____ level book, they want to read a book about tarantulas or dolphins or whatever. Make those groups be fun and funny and interesting. Some book bin labels from our revolving bin collection: Fun, Fun, Fun, We Go Out, 99 Problems, I Got a Dog. Our books are leveled A/B, C/D, E, F/G, H/I, but those level aren’t how we identify them.
Move those books around!
Bring them to faculty meetings. Make a bin swap date once a month for K-2. As a coach, tote them to collaboration meetings, PLC, and whenever you meet with teachers.
Involve everyone in the DIY
Just because I live in the literacy center, I don’t own it. Involve everyone. Ask questions: What do we need? What do we have? What organization would help? What’s hot?
Find out what is out there in the building
Do a complete inventory. Find out what you have to work with. Include classroom libraries that were purchased by the district, mentor texts, classroom sets, EVERYTHING.
Organize a book swap
Organize a book swap for teachers. What books do you have in your room that your students consistently can’t read, don’t read, are too high, too low, ready to move on. Maybe those books are just what someone else is looking for.
Organize a book swap for students
Have student bring in outgrown books. Set up shopping tables by general grade level or interest. Have kids take however many you can spread out.
Create a shared document
Create a shared document for recommendations, for groupings, for books. What would be a good next purchase? What should a classroom teacher build up? What is a must own?
Start in one place to organize
Let’s say your teachers all want to work on folk and fairy tales. Create a section in your book room that is especially for those titles. Same with animals. These are always needed and popular. Think about what you need organized as a group and start there.
Encourage everyone to switch up their offerings
A good time to switch is over breaks or at the end of units. Keep some from the last that didn’t quite get around to everyone or to use for transition. Another good time to switch is after assessment time when you want to match readers with books that are more right for them.
Think about vertical focus. Is there a title that wants to move from grade to grade. Picture books are not just for kindergarten and first grade.
Hang a sign in the door of the book room, Help Given. Have kiddos come by to discuss book groupings with you and help put away. Have PLCs meet where the books are.
These are just a few of the amazing ideas inside Clare and Tammy’s great book, It’s All About the Books. This is a must read for all teachers of reading because it really is all about the books.