Let me make a plain statement. If you want your students to read, you need books. Lots of them. Good ones. (Bonus points = New books.)
Sure, you can tell your students to visit the public library. Or the bookstore. Or, if you’re lucky, the school library. But that works only if your students already identify as readers.
If they don’t, that’s where you need a classroom library.
Inspired by Penny Kittle, author of Book Love and the founder of the Book Love Foundation, which helps teachers build classroom libraries, I am excited to announce that the first-ever Iserotope Starter Classroom Library is now a reality!
Here’s a peek:
The library, from top left to bottom right, includes five copies each of 22 titles: Thirteen Reasons Why, Drama High: The Fight, The Fault in Our Stars, Eleanor & Park, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Snitch, A Child Called It, Dope Sick, Monster, Tears of a Tiger, Lost and Found, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Lightning Thief, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The First Part Last, Life in Prison, The Rose that Grew from Concrete, Legend, We Were Here, Tyrell, Street Pharm, and Hip Hop High School.
The 110 books were purchased with the kind and generous donations of people across the country. A total of seven separate DonorsChoose.com projects were funded, with 53 donors in all. The total cost of the 110 books was $1,339.
Here are all the donors: Anonymous (x 11), 100 Women in Hedge Funds (x 9), Alyssa (California), Miss Large (California), Marielle (San Francisco), Nyokabi, Ellen (Oakland), Carmen (Kansas), Emily (California), Wendy (California), Jacob (California), Sean (California), Gwyn (California), Laura (California) (x 2), Google, Larry (Texas), Sue (Texas), Macey (Texas), John (California), Roxy (California), Susann (Alameda, CA), Linda (Boulder Creek, CA), Sam (California), Marian (California), Elaine (Thousand Oaks, CA), Kristin (Alabama), David (Pennsylvania), Jennifer (California), Lori (Benicia, CA), Gregor (California), Lisa (California), George (Boston, MA), Roni (Pennsylvania), Melanie, Mr. Bahl (Elmhurst, NY), Candice (Oakland, CA), Donna (Oakland, CA), Valerie (California).
It took just two months to build this starter classroom library, thanks to these generous donors. Four of the donations came from friends. Thank you! The rest are from total strangers. Thank you!
It is astounding and heartwarming to know that there are so many people across the country who care about Bay Area students and their reading lives. It gets me excited about what can happen if we get the right books into the hands of our students.
Just a little more about the process, in case you’re wondering:
I chose the titles with the help of some of my colleagues, who have been keeping track of which titles have been most popular among ninth graders this year.
Instead of purchasing 110 different books, I decided to buy five copies of each title. This is best practice, I believe. Particularly for ninth graders, and especially to encourage reluctant readers to come back to reading (after sometimes a long time off), it’s best to focus on depth rather than breadth. It’s better for students to be reading the same titles, talking about how much they like those stories and characters, and building a classroom reading culture of shared texts. Once they have several of these books under their belt, they’re on their way. They’re free to explore.
I’m really excited to get this starter classroom library out to a deserving teacher and his or her students. But now comes the hard part. Who should get this library? Right now, I’m not ready to come up with a process, but I know one is necessary. After all, there are many excellent teachers ready to make a huge impact on their students through independent reading.
Please let me know, by leaving a brilliant insight, what you think of this starter classroom library and if you have any ideas about how to decide who should receive it. Thank you!