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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- It increases the range and volume of potential mentor texts for future study during a class project.
- 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.
- 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.
- It is a great place into which to publish your own writing, or that of other writer-teachers.
- 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.
- 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.