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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Issues with a classroom library that becomes a de-facto branch library

Susan Norwood guest blogs today about her classroom library. We joke that she has a branch library in our school – AKA a classroom library that is open to more than just one classroom.

A curious thing is happening in my classroom library. My books are disappearing at a rapid rate. I use the honor system: kids sign out their books on a legal pad. It’s nothing high-tech. Certain types of materials have to stay in the classroom– namely manga, graphic novels, and magazines, because students read these every class period.

Lately, I have been having visitors. Students pop in from other classrooms. I don’t know who they are, but I can’t bring myself to tell a child, “No, you can’t read my books, unless you’re in my class.” Yesterday, a boy I don’t know, handed me four of my books that he had borrowed. I was happy to see the first four volumes of the Bone series by Jeff Smith. Those books are pricey, and I didn’t want to have to buy new ones. By the end of the day, I noticed that volumes 5-7 of Bone are now gone. I hope it’s the same kid, who is honest. He also returned Dragonball Z (Volumes 1-3).

What else is missing?

  • Five copies of The Test by Peggy Kern (a new Bluford High book)
  • Three copies of Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (Twilight is still popular)
  • Two copies of Eclipse (see above)
  • Naruto and Fruits Basket (I can no longer keep track of these. They come and go with alarming speed)
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Enter If You Dare! (the brand new purple book)
  • Ripley’s Special Edition- 2011
  • A drawing book for boys – don’t know the title, but boys have asked to buy it from me.
  • The Rose that Grew From Concrete— poems by Tupac Shakur- 2 copies
  • Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney – 2 copies

I know that there are more missing. These are the titles that I know are AWOL. So, why the sudden interest in my library, especially among students that I don’t have? I think it’s because our (Diane’s) library has been closed since we returned to school after the winter break. We missed a week of school and a few days when she was in San Diego, but it seems like forever since kids have been able to check out books. Again, not just my students, but the whole school.

My students miss the library. Some of them are downright irate. When Diane stopped by my room yesterday, she had to explain why the library is closed for the time being, and also, that students will not be able to go as often. This is unfortunate, and not something that she wants to do. The good news is that many students are in the habit of having outside reading material with them at all times. Every day now, boys will come by my room to borrow Sports Illustrated, SLAM, The Dupont Registry (really expensive cars), and other magazines, which I allow them to borrow them- but only for one period. I tell my students something my mother (a reader) used to tell me, “If you like to read, you’ll never be bored.” That went along with, “Saying you’re bored is like saying you’re too stupid to entertain yourself. Interesting, smart people are never bored.” She got right to the point.

Our once vibrant library has been quiet as a tomb, but my “branch library” is bustling. Our kids are hungry for good things to read! I’m doing my best to feed them.

Note to readers: The library was closed the first week of school because I was only there two days before ALA Midwinter San Diego. The second week was a snow day closure all week. We are open again with a new schedule which combines fixed checkout times for every student to come once every two weeks and a flexible schedule of instruction which allows a great deal of access.


  1. Please, please, please find out the name of the drawing book and pass it along. I have some boys (and girls) who are budding artists and could use a good drawing book.


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