The Benefits of Building a Class Library of Children’s Own Writing

By Tobias Hayden

Our class library holds a treasured place in our writing community. Creating one works well if you teach our Being Writers mini-lesson called Doing What Bookshops Do at the beginning of the first term and should be self-sustaining throughout the year. This helps develop children’s affective behaviours. For example: motivation, writer-identity, volition and agency.

It has several other important functions. Below are ten that come to mind:

  1. Simply, it acts as a publishing goal (a place where writers can publish their writing for others to read) while supporting children’s understanding of some of the real reasons they may be moved to write.
  2. It can help writers to understand large categories in writing (narrative: story and memoir, persuasion and opinion and non-fiction) as well as sub-divisions (genres like mystery stories, poetry or match reports).
  3. As it belongs to the community, it can be shaped the way you wish, so it enables children to experiment with genre either by hybridising, or by creating micro-divisions which meet their writing interests (E.g. sword-fighting stories, poems about animals, or funny school tales).
  4. It connects reading and writing by giving children an additional option when reading for pleasure. Many children choose to read each other’s, or their own writing during this time.
  5. It increases the range and volume of potential mentor texts for future study during a class project.
  6. Physically, it sits at the centre of the reading area demonstrating its importance, and its status is further raised because it makes available a plethora of options when reading aloud to the class.
  7. Making it portable helps when you want to read for pleasure away from the classroom, or even if you want to loan your whole library to another class.
  8. It is a great place into which to publish your own writing, or that of other writer-teachers.
  9. It creates an additional area of the classroom which requires organisation and management helping to develop children’s sense of responsibility and authentic ownership over their learning environment.
  10. It has the potential, in a mature and developed writing community, to act as an originator of fresh class project ideas, and may spawn its own mini-lessons as you navigate how best to use it.

Can anything be published into the class library? Ultimately, yes, but you will want to teach some other Being Writers mini-lessons relating to publishing expectations in order to strive for quality. These may look different depending on level of experience, however, the principles remain the same.


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