Check out this beautiful classroom library in Port Townsend, Washington. It makes me happy. I love it.
Major props go to Ben and Julie Dow, teachers extraordinaire, for the elegant construction. Behold! Not even a surly non-reader could pass by this beautiful book display unmoved.
There are many reasons this classroom library is wonderful. Among them:
1. Book covers face forward.
Ben and Julie know what bookstores know: Nobody wants to look at a book’s spine. The cover is where the action is.
2. Books are displayed, not shelved.
Shelves are for book-keeping, not book-reading. There’s nothing wrong with a bookshelf, especially when the shelves are narrow. But there’s nothing better than a book display.
3. Fewer good books > More not-so-good books.
This is one of my big mantras. Ben and Julie curate their classroom library so every title counts. There’s no glory in collecting thousands of ragtag books that no student will read. Corollary: Just because 1 of your 100 students will read The Mill on the Floss doesn’t mean you need to stock it. Better to get books that will move.
Want to see more? Here’s the library from a couple more angles:
It’s classy. I’m very impressed.
Of course, I should know to expect this level of quality from Ben and Julie. They’re advanced. They’ve been my friends for years, plus I co-taught American Studies with Ben in the last century. There were plenty of hours spent in their apartment grading, planning, and grading and planning some more.
Now, 15 years later, Ben and Julie continue their excellent work. Now I want to encourage some of my colleagues to do the same — partly for the students and their reading, and partly out of healthy respect and competition, to tell Ben and Julie, “You see? We can do this, too!”
What do you think? Please leave comments for Ben and Julie!