I love books.
I have always loved books. Our sharing topic last week was Bring Your Favorite Book and one of my kids brought a Golden Book. I hope you know what a Golden Book is and I’m not just sitting here announcing how old I am. Growing up, we had tons of Golden Books and my absolute favorite was the The Saggy Baggy Elephant and I have a crystal clear memory of the page with the elephant in the water and his cute little belly sticking up out of the water. I loved that page!
My mom read to us every night. And we went to the public library all of the time. And I read all the time. I still read all the time. I actually have to read a chapter or two of a novel before I go to bed at night. It’s a real thing.
So anyways, I strive to instill the love of books and reading in my students each year, too. I kind of go against the grain when it comes to this.
For example, we use Accelerated Reader at our school which is a read a book at your level and then take a comprehension quiz on the computer sort of program. And I do like it. It’s motivating for the kids and it really helps foster the home/school connection.
But I also hate it.
There. I said it.
I only hate it because some of my kids say things like Is this an AR book? or Can I take a test on this book? And that drives me crazy! I want my kids to read books because they want to read books, not because they will earn points, or because it’s at their level, or because blah blah blah.
There. I got it out. I feel better now.
Here’s how book baskets work in my room. They have nothing at all to do with AR, student levels, my classroom library, the school library, or anything at all related to any kind of rules whatsoever at all.
I’m telling you, I might be Type A, but when it comes to books, I’m basically a gypsy. Or a hippie. Or waving my freak flag. Take your pick.
This is a picture of a basket of books under my easel. The poor bow is untied and I don’t care. You can see Junie B. in the basket, as well. She lives there unless the Teacher’s Pet is holding her while I read a chapter or I take her home to give her a bath.
Anyways, these are “my” books. I fill up this basket with books based on the season or a specific subject I might be teaching or if I figure out the kids love Gerald and Piggie books as much as me. Right now, I have a ton of fall, Halloween, and bat books in the basket.
Every morning, I read a book from the basket.
It’s called a Read Aloud. 😉
And, call me a rebel, but I read the book purely for fun. FUN, I said! For pleasure! For enjoyment! Obviously, certain things come up sometimes, such as setting or rhyming words or problem/solution or a fun fact or what-have-you, and I talk about them, but for the most part, I don’t interrupt the book.
I JUST READ IT.
After I’ve read it, I pull a stick. And, the student whose name is on that stick gets to take that book to their table for the day.
And every day, no matter what, regardless of the book, students cheer if it will be at their table or they groan and whine if it won’t. Every.single.day.
I’ve had these baskets for about three years now. But over the years, I’ve used tubs, wicker baskets, etc. The container itself doesn’t actually matter.
The Teacher’s Pet moves the book baskets every day so that the kids at each table have different books each day. At the beginning of the school year, this is a process. We all help the Teacher’s Pet learn the rotation.
Start at Table One. Move the basket to Table Two. Take their basket and move it to Table Three. And so on. When they get to Table Five and have to move that basket, I make a big show of But wait! There’s no Table Six! Where does this basket go? And the kids yell Table One!!!
Moving the book baskets now is a piece of cake and I hardly ever have to remind the Teacher’s Pet to do it. They just do it. They want to. And they have their eye on a particular book from another table that they can’t wait to read.
(BONUS — when we have class parties, I always have five centers – one at each table. This makes the rotations go SO UNBELIEVABLY SMOOTH, I can’t even tell you. The kids absolutely know, without a doubt, how to move to the next table. It’s a breeze.)
I love walking around the classroom and seeing my kids reading the books I just read. Even if they can’t read the words, they are reading the pictures, they are retelling the story, they are reading to a friend, they are listening to a friend read it . . . it makes me so happy.
To hear kids cheering because a book is going to be at their table for the day (or to hear we’ll get that book tomorrow when the baskets move!!!!) makes my whole day.
When the baskets become too full or too heavy, I will take books out and put them back behind my whiteboard . . . but there’s no rhyme or reason to this either. Some books will always stay in the baskets (Gerald and Piggie) but maybe Back to School books and Halloween books will “disappear” by the time Winter rolls around.
I know what you’re thinking.
But these are your books! Don’t they get sticky? Don’t pages fall out? Do they get dirty? Do the kids take care of them?
And this is where I am genuinely a gypsy. Or a hippie. Because I view worn out books as LOVED.
And worn out books can be fixed.
I’ve taught my kids to put books that are so loved and read so many times that they’re falling apart into this bag. It also has book tape (packaging tape) and scissors in it, and I send it home every once in awhile with a parent to mend the books.
Let me tell you — when a book has been repaired and I put it back in a book basket . . .
Well . . . I bet you can guess.
PS I generally wait two to three weeks to begin this because I need to have several books that I’ve read aloud to go into the baskets. When school begins, I fill up the baskets with books from our class library and half sheets of “blank” paper (I recycle paper all the time so it is only blank on one side) for drawing or writing. Then we transition to my read aloud books. 🙂