The Importance of Classroom Libraries

The research on kids being immersed in print is undeniable:

  • “Helping students choose what to read is also about the wider reading culture context — helping students become literary, not just literate.” (National Library)
  • Though many educators subscribe to the belief that students must read books that are on their grade level, children are often able to read texts that are otherwise too difficult for them if the texts are interesting. (National Library)
  • Quality classroom libraries are not simply collections of children’s trade books located in the back corner of the room. There are certain characteristics and design features that strongly influence whether or not classroom libraries may be used to their full potential to improve children’s reading performance (Booksource):
    • 300 to 600 books
    • Wide range of reading difficulty
    • Variety of genres
    • New books with appealing covers
    • Attractive, inviting setting
    • Permanent “core” collection and regularly replenished “revolving” collection

If you would like more evidence:

  • The Importance of Classroom Libraries
  • A study outlined in Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading found that two factors help students recall information from reading: readability and reader interest. The study found that the ‘interestingness’ of a text is thirty times more powerful than the readability of text when it comes to comprehension and recall. In fact, it is the “interestingness” of the books that leads to enjoyment and increases in positive attitudes toward reading by children. (National Library)
  • Classrooms must have libraries! Regie Routman (2003) states, “I have seen excellent classroom libraries transform children as readers. Conversely, when there are no libraries, or poor ones, students often do not like to read and do not achieve their highest potential.” Classroom libraries must be filled with literature that is both interesting and diverse. A study of preschoolers, found that young children “need rich and diverse reading materials” in order to acquire “the complex set of attitudes, skills, and behaviors associated with literacy development.” (Reading Horizons).
  • Reading is more than a cognitive process of decoding the words, reading fluently, or comprehending the text. It is becoming deeply involved, captivated, absorbed and immersed in a text – in other words, engaged. Reading engagement integrates the cognitive, motivational, and social dimensions of reading and reading instruction. This means that children must not only have the competence to read, but also the motivation to read (Reading Horizons).
  • “If motivation is treated as secondary to the acquisition of basic reading skills, we risk creating classrooms filled with children who can read but choose not to.” If the goal is for all children to be successful readers by third grade (and hopefully beyond) – then reading engagement must be as much of a priority as all other areas of instruction (Reading Horizons).

Even Longer Version – If you would like even more evidence, you can check out any of the thousands of reputable articles online. Here’s a place you could start.