The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf

Looking Back and Looking Ahead to Make the Classroom Bookshelf Even Better

In August, sharpened pencils stand tall in cups and caddies. Crisp, marble notebooks are stacked in neat piles. Bulletin boards, carefully crafted with die cut letters, greet students. And books, intentionally selected, line library and classroom bookshelves. Everything feels possible. At The Classroom Bookshelf, we believe that literacy itself is about possibility. With this in mind, we continuously strive to write blog posts about recently released children’s and YA books to spark new possibilities to make learning memorable and meaningful for students. 

Rather than write scripts or lessons, we write what we call invitations. We open a book and think widely about all the ways that you can use it with students. We hope our ideas find a home in your classroom. Maybe our ideas help you try a read aloud. Or engage students with a new arts approach. Or create content area connections. Or integrate social and emotional learning in a new way. Or link books to other books in a text set. Our goal each week is to empower you to make instructional choices by using books that make joy and purpose the heart of your teaching. 

We began this blog in November of 2010, which means that this year is our tenth year of blogging! This work has its origins in conversations that Mary Ann, Grace, and Erika had about ways to leverage technology to spread the word about children’s books that have great potential for use in K-8 classrooms. Katie joined our blog in October of 2013. As a team, we view the blog as an opportunity to share our enthusiasm for books as transformative teaching tools. We cherish our collaboration and are continually in conversation and learning from one another as we plan blog entries and offer feedback and additional resources to one another. 

As we launch this tenth year, we are seeking input from you, the readers of our blog. We are curious about how you use the blog in your teaching practices and what we might do to make this resource even more useful to you. So, we invite you to use the comments feature in this blog to share your thoughts with us. We welcome any feedback or questions that you have and are also curious about the following:

  • Are there particular kinds of teaching invitations that you find most useful? For example, we frequently include invitations that focus on:
  • Mentor Texts
  • Arts Integrations
  • Content Area Learning
  • Teaching with Text Sets
  • Understanding Story and Other Literary Elements 
  • Socio-Emotional Learning
  • Project-Based Learning 
  • What strategies do you use to access prior blog entries? For example:
    • Do you use the search bar? 
    • Do you browse the archive? 
    • Use the tabs at the top of the blog?
    • Search tags? What kinds of tags are most useful to you? Any tag recommendations?
  • Do you read the entries on your own or do you share the entries with your colleagues? In a teaching team? Do you try the teaching invitations together?
  • How do you use the text sets that we provide with each entry (digital resources and books)? 
  • How did you apply or tweak any of our teaching ideas and invitations to support the strengths and identities of your specific students?
  • Are there genres and formats you want to see featured more often? 
  • What would make the blog more useful to you?

Finally, as you launch the school year, we hope books bring smiles to your students’ faces, rich conversations, and thought-provoking questions. We hope each day that your students outgrow themselves because of the characters they meet, the information they learn, the language they hear, and the authors and illustrators they admire. We hope that we are helping you make that possible. Thank you for reading our entries over the years and for being part of our Classroom Bookshelf community.

Erika Thulin Dawes About Erika Thulin Dawes

Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.