Subscribe to SLJ
The Classroom Bookshelf
Inside The Classroom Bookshelf

What We Believe

At The Classroom Bookshelf, we strive to model week after week the many ways that teachers can consider texts of any genre for classroom use and instructional purposes. We believe that the best way to learn to read, advance as a reader, and learn content through reading is for teachers and children to make choices together; teachers know the students best, and can use a variety of texts to differentiate instruction and meet the needs of each student, whether they are advanced readers or reluctant, “right on” grade level, bilingual learners, or students with special needs.

Over the past decade we’ve experienced two movements in education that have operated in opposition to one another. The testing craze associated with the very real consequences of standardized tests based on No Child Left Behind has, we believe, left many children behind as schools have purchased expensive reading programs, basal readers, and scripted curriculum that don’t allow for children to interact with authentic texts.

Simultaneously, our definition of reading grows ever more complex as new technologies change the way we communicate, allowing us to think of literacy in many modalities and texts in many formats, both print and digital. One-size-fits-all curriculum doesn’t match with our new understandings of what reading is and the varied reasons why children (and adults) read for pleasure and information. Our hope is that our blog can model the variety of ways that multigenre, multimodal print and digital texts can be used in units of study in ways that make sense to teachers crafting curriculum.

You will find that this blog is impressionistic, not prescriptive. You won’t find a full unit or anything that looks like a lesson plan. Instead, you will find an array of activities that can be used on their own or in combination with one another for a wide range of classroom contexts K-8. These teaching ideas and invitations focus on literacy in diverse contexts, because we believe that literacy is first and foremost a tool for learning about the world around us. In school, we could be reading in order to: learn content in science and social studies, acquire and improve reading skills and strategies, explore author’s craft, understand genre expectations, and develop disciplinary literacies, visual literacy, and critical literacy,

There are many blogs that review children’s and young adult literature. We seek to carve out space to create a bridge between the books and the teachers and children that can use them, to brainstorm classroom considerations that make it easier for teachers to consider quality books for curricular use amongst the 17,000 plus books for children and young adults published each year.