1. Build your collection.

Evaluate the books you have in your library.  Decide what books to order based on student interest, age, and reading level.

  • All books should be in good condition, with attractive covers.  Discard any dated or boring books.
  • Determine what you need, then request funding or write grants for purchases.
  • Maintain a library of several hundreds of unique titles, not class sets; 500 chapter books, or more for shorter books (Allington, 55).
  • Collect small group sets (5 copies per title) of the earliest, simplest books for shared reading (Allington, 55).
  • Purchase many different genres, topics, and ability levels.
  • Purchase paperbacks.  They are less expensive.  Also, children are more likely to develop a reading habit with paperbacks than hardcover books (Krashen, 46).
  • Magazines or also good reading material, but make sure you have sturdy bins or a magazine rack.  If possible, invest in magazine covers. Discard any in poor condition.
  • Optionally use clear covers to protect your most valuable or highest-curriculating books.  Tutorial here. 
  • Comics are a good choice for beginning readers.  Just having comics on the shelves can generate more interest in your library over-all, and increase circulation of all books (Krashen, 56).
  • Make sure ethnic minority students' cultures are represented. (Catapano, Fleming, & Elias, 68).
  • Older students may read books designed for younger students, in addition to books that are interesting for their age group. 
  • Younger children should read book that contain age-appropriate content: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/ or http://www.biblionasium.com/.


Allington, R. L. (2012). What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research-based programs. Boston, Mass: Pearson.

Catapano, S, Fleming, J., & Elias, M. (2009). Building an effective classroom library. Journal of
Language and Literacy Education [Online], 5(1), 59-73.

Krashen, S. D. (2004). The power of reading: Insights from the research. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.