Too many books…
It’s a good problem to have, or so I thought. Before I had to start making choices.
I am moving into a new classroom at a new grade level. Moving in is fun, but I was quickly faced with a pile of decisions…or actually, a pile of books. In fact, lots of piles of books. Lots and lots and lots of…well, you get the idea. It’s a wonderful thing to inherit a classroom full of books, unless at home you also have your own enormous stash of books waiting to be moved back to school! Knowing that shelf space is limited and knowing that I really, really love MY own books—I knew it was time for the sorting to begin.
How do you decide which books to keep and which to discard? And what (gulp!) does “discard” mean? It’s SO hard to get rid of books.
It was all right to start with the outdated books with ripped pages or damaged covers. The challenge came with the picture books, all recognizable from teaching years past. The “sentimental” factor started kicking in. I had to decide what my criteria was going to be, and I had to be brutal. After all, my books were just waiting to claim that precious shelf space.
I remember when I started teaching, I felt the need to have many, many books in my classroom. I haunted book sales at the library and rummaged through piles of old books at yard sales. I filled my shelves and was proud that I could offer my students a huge variety of stories to read. This inherited collection reminded me of that time. But now I am feeling much more selective about the books I am offering my students. I want my second graders to read stories that are wonderful examples of good writing. I want them to be enchanted by the books they pick up. I want the books on our shelves to inspire them, draw them in, and grow their thinking. So I started piling up books to the side that seemed a little too ordinary. I put aside books that struck me as hard to follow or understand. And finally I started putting aside books that could easily be found in our school library and even in other classrooms with teachers who share with us. I tried to keep the most readable, unique, diverse, unusual, and beloved of the books that I found. I tried to keep a wide variety to speak to all my readers. And I tried to keep the books that will tempt even the most reluctant kids. I want my students to feel like they are treasure hunting when they go book shopping…and I want them to come up with hands full of gems!
The result is a mountain of discarded books in the hallway. Some should just be recycled, but many of them need a new home. I’ve been restocking a some Little Free Libraries and offering books to anyone I can think of. It is still very, very hard to think about discarding books—but at least they weren’t mine to begin with! The thought of paring down my own stash makes me crazy. I don’t think I’m going to ever be very good at weeding out books from my own collection. It will be a big enough job just to haul them all back to school…where they will be, just waiting for those eager readers to come through the classroom door!
Wish me luck…I haven’t even started dealing with my teacher resource books yet!