New Project Underway at the TCRWP

Imagine a football field covered from goal post to goal post with stacks upon stacks of the most beautiful children’s literature published. That’s what the amphitheater at Teachers College looks like as TCRWP works to create state-of-the art classroom libraries—available exclusively from Heinemann beginning this summer.

Each classroom library will contain a number of collections that can be distributed separately. One library, for example, may contain foundational fiction and nonfiction books, and also a collection of humorous series books, a collection of biographies, high interest expository nonfiction, and mysteries. At each grade level, there will be a library for classrooms whose readers are reading roughly at benchmark levels, and another for classrooms whose readers read below benchmark levels.

This week, all hands are on deck as participants of the February Content Area Institute, Teachers College LITI graduate students, staff developers and children’s literature experts come together to help Project staff review thousands of recommended books. “I took a picture this morning and sent it my colleagues in Greenwood, South Carolina,” literacy coach Denise Schweikart said when she saw the room. “I told them this is a dream come true!”

Fiction books that make the cut are ones that feature strong characters and support interpretation work. For nonfiction, we are choosing books that support students in grasping the main idea and in sustained reading to learn. Above all, our priority is books that will attract and delight readers of all ages and interests.

Some people are asking whether these libraries are being specifically designed to support classrooms using the enormously popular Units of Study in Reading series, and the answer is both yes and no. Yes, the libraries will be perfectly matched to that effort. But on the other hand, they are being made for any classroom, and will support any approach to teach reading. For example, there will be a shelf designed for American Revolution related books for Grade 4, but that shelf will be a free standing addition to the library in recognition of the fact that not all 4th grades across the country will focus on that topic.

We hope to have the libraries selected and ready to share sometime this spring. Stay tuned!