Classroom Libraries…A Necessity

One of the most important things in a classroom is the classroom library.  It is probably only second to a passionate teacher.

As English teachers, we must build classroom libraries filled with books that are new, fresh, and exciting to students.  But, how do we do that?

Our first step should be to create a library filled with many different genres, abilities, or “doors into reading”.  Penny Kittle’s Book Love gives a bunch of recommendations in a huge range of doors to reading.  I just kept highlighting and marking options she lists!Book Love


How do we fund our classroom libraries?  Books are expensive – especially if you are buying tens or hundreds each year.  I admit that I am a bibliophile.  Look at all these YA books I already own!

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And yet, I know I cannot fund a classroom library on my own.  Sarah Anderson has a couple of really great blog posts on classroom libraries.  She talks about the different methods she used to fill her classroom library.  She received books as gifts and set up a fundraising site for books.  She had to also set herself a budget – or she would spend every dollar she has on books.

She also encourages students to donate books.  They enjoy taking ownership in the classroom library and love when Mrs. Anderson puts their name in a donated by bookplate.  They also make suggestions about what should be in the next round of book acquisitions.


What is the value of a classroom library?  I don’t think it is something you can calculate or quantify.  Sarah Anderson’s students sum it up amazingly.

They say her classroom library gives them access to books, they do not need to worry about due dates, get recommendations and build a relationship with their teacher.  These are not things you can count or measure.

The value of a classroom library is that it gives teens an open and available resource, doors through which they can enter the world of reading, and begins to create life-long readers.


The classroom library is essential for every teacher.  What do you think should be in a classroom library?  How will you build your library?  Let’s talk below….

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14 thoughts on “Classroom Libraries…A Necessity

    1. I never owned them before. So a few years ago, after I saw all the movies, I decided that I should spend some birthday money on a box set. I am pretty nuts about my books all series being in the same style/format. Box sets are perfect for me!

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  1. I’m definitely in the “spend every dollar I make on books” camp. I need a budget myself! So hard for me to say no when a student wants to read a particular title! I do find some surprising bargains at library sales–YA gets culled pretty regularly and I much prefer hardcovers for my classroom libraries since they’re so much more durable. I also love the idea of soliciting book donations from students.

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    1. Our school has a Buy One, Get One Free book fair each spring. I’ve added quite a few books to my library through that. I do “sneak” books home only one or two at a time now. I could spend money on worse things!

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  2. I always love to ask my students what is “in”. What better way to get students interested in reading than to ask them for their opinions on books, authors, genres, interests, etc. Also, you are right. Parents and students can do AMAZING things if we simply ask. What a great way to build a library: asking donations from families and then recognizing their contributions to the classroom library. Almost like opening a textbook. Students see who have used the book in the past and are amazed at the names. Students will open a book and see who donated it and connect with older students in the school who they idolize.

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  3. I hope to be as resourceful as Andy Dufresne from The Shawkshank Redemption when I build my library: “You’d be amazed how far Andy could stretch it. He made deals with book clubs, charity groups. He bought remaindered books by the pound.”

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  4. Luckily, most books are about 5-6″ wide, so walls of very narrow shelves could be used to minimize classroom space taken. Hanging shelves makes me nervous because I can see those getting unintentionally pulled down on someone’s head (short students like me :oD)

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    1. We lived in a really small apartment once. The best thing we bought were skinny bookshelves. They are only 12-18″ wide I think. Great for sticking in a corner or tucking in a small space!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this post! I liked the photos you shared of your personal library as it reminded me greatly of my own. I just have one question. How can a teacher have an extensive classroom library if the space constraints can barely handle the number of students in the room? This stems from an issue that was present in my high school where rooms were tiny and packed to the brim with teenagers and desks, let alone anything else.

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    1. This is a great question, and one we will certainly face! What about shelves on the walls? Something like a floating mantel? There is also the corner shelves too.
      I’m not sure how it will work. Did you have a teacher who made it work? What did they do?

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      1. I don’t really recall a teacher who managed to have a classroom library that could be considered extensive. However, I do think that floating shelves would be really helpful as well as corner shelving and maybe even an electronic library of sorts if that is possible through the iPads or Kindles that many schools have acquired for their students

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      2. I hadn’t thought of an eClassroom library! I wonder if there are restrictions in terms of Ebooks I purchased and sharing with students….

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