If you have been able to catch any of my Facebook lives last summer or even heard me present, you will always hear me talk honestly about book shopping. When I was in the classroom, I was always SO fearful of letting all of those little hands touch my books. After all, I had spent so much money on them. As time went on, a sweet colleague of mine taught me how she did book shopping and I finally got brave and tried it.
Now, in the spirit of being honest, I will say that while it worked WONDERFULLY, I didn’t stick with it. Looking back, I’m not sure why. Maybe it was because I was pregnant all year or maybe because I had a very busy kindergarten class that year—whatever the reason, it still wasn’t a good enough reason to stop. I should have pressed on and done it. Why? Because it’s SO powerful for kids! I saw it firsthand in my own kindergarten classroom!
So let’s talk about how you can make book shopping EASY to implement and EFFECTIVE in your classroom!
Step 1: Level and Organize Your Library
Real talk, my friends—this does take time, but it’s WORTH it! I promise! You can use the many apps and websites out there to figure this out if you need some help.
Some of my favorite tubs for storing the books are found right at the Target dollar spot! Mine have lasted years, honestly.
I also like these Sterilite tubs for storing books. I have used a combination of both for the most part!
Get the book tub labels HERE.
Step 2: Know Your Students’ Reading Levels.
You can gather this information by doing a running record during guided reading. Often times, most schools require you to do beginning of the year assessments to determine their reading levels. Once you have this information, you are going to know how to direct them when shopping.
Step 3: Make Shopping Cards
This is the genius part my friend taught me! Have your kids pick 3 books on their level, 2 books 1 level above, and 1 book that is their heart’s desire! For the last one, you can allow your students to pick books that aren’t necessarily leveled, but are in themed tubs instead. Your students will use their book shopping card to direct them in their shopping. As students move up reading levels, you simply create them a new card OR just cross out their previous level and write the new one on there. I liked using library pockets, which I laminated and taped onto the side of the tubs (similar found here) that the kids used for their book tubs.
Get a free card template FREE HERE if you’d like!
Step 4: Set Up a Routine
A good routine for us was coming in Friday mornings and allowing the students to go book shopping. I would dismiss them by tables and set a timer, otherwise, it was just chaos in our classroom library! The other students would work on their morning work.
Now you may be thinking, this sounds great, but what about the beginning of the year when I don’t know their levels yet? Great question! My suggestion would be to fill their book boxes for them with the first 5 books and then let them pick 1 book as you are slowly introducing book shopping. After all, they need their boxes filled so that you can practice independent reading for literacy stations, right?
My last piece of advice: Don’t be like me and wait forever! Do this now! Let them touch, feel, and READ those precious books.