Teachers, let’s talk about a popular topic across education blogs and Pinterest: the classroom library. A quick search on the Internet results in numerous tips, tricks, and ideas for different ways to configure and organize your classroom library. It’s an intensive and thoughtful process that involves thinking about genre, reading levels, interest levels, grade-level content, categories, and themes.
Unfortunately, we often see classroom libraries that group diverse books into categories that isolate or limit their use. Simply having a book bin labeled “cultures from around the world” or “black history month books” does not mean your library is culturally responsive. We need to think critically about how these books reflect the diversity of our students, their backgrounds, and the communities in which we live while exposing them to new ideas and concepts. Does your classroom library contain books that include main characters of color or with disabilities? Do your books featuring people of color only focus on issues of race, prejudice, or discrimination? Do they go beyond ethnic heritage months? Do they only focus on cultural traditions and foods?
To help you do so, LEE & LOW BOOKS has created a Classroom Library Questionnaire for you to use as a tool to analyze the books in your library and determine where there are strengths and gaps in diversity. It isn’t enough just to have diverse and culturally responsive books, but we also need to think about how and when we use these books in the classroom.
Click here to download the free Classroom Library Questionnaire.
For more information about building a culturally responsive classroom library:
- The Importance of Text Selection: How to Incorporate Social Justice in an English Classroom
- Part 1- Having Students Analyze Our Classroom Library To See How Diverse It Is
- Part 2- Having Students Analyze Our Classroom Library To See How Diverse It Is
- Building Your Classroom Library: 5 Things to Consider
- What’s in your Classroom Library? Rethinking Common Core Recommended Texts
- Toolkit for Picture Imperfect from Teaching Tolerance
Veronica has a degree from Mount Saint Mary College and joined LEE & LOW in the fall of 2014. She has a background in education and holds a New York State childhood education (1-6) and students with disabilities (1-6) certification. When she’s not wandering around New York City, you can find her hiking or hanging out with her dog Milo in her hometown in the Hudson Valley, NY.