If my classroom library was for me there would be no dog books. Well, almost no dog books because Rain Reign deserves to be there. There would be no sports books, except for maybe Stupid Fast. There would be no books with mermaids, unicorns, or any kind of princess, except for the feisty ones. If my classroom library was for me, I would have only books that I know would fit all of my readers, that no one would ever object to or question. I would take the easy way, after all, who needs more worries in their life?
There would be shelves and shelves of dystopian science fiction mixed with a little bit of love. There would be historical fiction but mostly the more recent stuff. Realistic fiction would be a major section, but fantasy would be reserved for the stuff that makes sense, after all, who needs books about dragons?
But it is not.
Our classroom library is filled with dog books. With books about kings and queens, footballs, and dragons. It is filled with books about men who went to war and never came back, and women who conquered the world. It is filled with science, with history, and even with joke books because who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then.
Our classroom library is not just for me. It serves more than 120 students and some may have similar tastes as me, but most of them don’t. So when I choose whether a book deserves a spot in our library, I cannot just think of myself. I cannot be afraid to place books in it that scare me. I cannot be afraid of what others may think if I know that a book is needed. I cannot use myself as a measuring stick. If I did, our library would not be for the students.
So when we purchase books. When we decide what to display. What to book talk. What to remove, keep this in mind; our classroom libraries are meant to be homes to all readers. Not just the ones that are like ourselves. Not just the ones who have seemingly quiet lives filled with normal things like family dinner and soccer. Not just the ones who love to read. Not just the ones who tell us which books to buy and raise their hand when we ask who wants to read it next.
Our classroom libraries are for all kids that enter our classroom. Especially for the ones who are lost, who have not found that book, or that story that made them believe that they are a reader, that their life matters. We must have books that allow all children to feel that way. To feel like there is not something wrong with them. It is no longer a matter of just having diverse book, it is about having the right books for all those kids that come to us and wonder whether they are ok and then displaying them. Whether they are normal. The books speak for us, so make sure they speak loudly. Make sure that in your classroom children can find that book that will make the biggest difference. Make sure you do not stand in the way. Make sure fear of what others may think does not stop you from helping a child.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. The 2nd edition and actual book-book (not just e-book!) just came out!