Disclaimer... and credit where credit is due!

This blog is simply my thoughts, ideas, and suggestions related to the Daily Five and Cafe. I give full credit to the creators of both Daily 5 and Cafe, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, also known as The Sisters. I have attended their workshops, read their books, and subscribe to their website. Everything else, I've interpreted on my own! :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shopping for Books

I'll admit... it looks like chaos when we shop. And sometimes, it is. :) In the three years I've used Daily Five in my classroom, I've always had kids shop for books all together at the same time. There are many, many, many different ways of shopping, but I've found this way to be the easiest, simplest to manage for me! What I love about shopping all together is that I dedicate that time to wandering around the room, searching for books and guiding readers. What's even better is when I see my first graders doing the same thing! I love seeing them all huddled around the big book boxes, making suggestions to each other, handing books to a friend, and excited about discovering what new books they can read!

Each Friday for about 20 minutes, our room becomes a book store. Readers grab their individual book tubs and move around the room to the book boxes I've directed them to. I have 6 "levels" of tubs, ranging from blue to purple, which contain very easy readers to in-depth chapter books.

You'll notice, too, that there is a lot of overlap in the levels. The very, very rough guidelines are:
Blue = preA-D (wordless picture books, books with only captions, books that follow a pattern closely)
Green = C-F levels (patterns are more complicated and aren't followed as closely)
Yellow = E-I levels (moving away from patterns and relying less on picture cues)
Orange = I-L levels (beginning chapter books like Henry & Mudge, Cork & Fuzz, Poppleton)
Red = J-M levels (more beginning chapter books that are a bit more complicated)
Red Red = M-O levels (chapter books that are a bit longer and more complicated)
Purple = More difficult, longer chapter books

By asking them to choose from certain book boxes, I am easing my mind in knowing that there will be books in that box that they can read. However, there will also be many, many choices and opportunities for them to use the I-PICK method. (If a reader asks to choose from another box or to put a library book in their tub, I'll chat with them and decide case-by-case how to honor those choices. If there's rationale behind it, most often it's an enthusiastic "YES" from me!)

Also within the big book boxes are lots and lots of books. Fiction. Nonfiction. Poetry. Some graphic novels. Very generously leveled books. Easier books. Harder books. I try to make it as diverse as possible so my readers have many choices.  There is also more than one book box for each color so there are always enough books to go around!

Keep in mind that I've been teaching for 17 years and pretty much obsessed with books. I've built quite a collection over the years! Scholastic book orders and my own personal purchases have been the biggest contributors to that collection. Garage sales and resale shops are also good places to search!

My firsties are well aware that tomorrow is shopping day and are already asking when we get to shop! I'm looking forward to helping put good books in their hands!

~Komos :)


  1. This sounds so fun! You give me an inspiration of what to look forward to (in 13 more years, that is!)!

  2. Laura,

    Love the idea of the "leveled" bins that aren't true levels. I always struggle with whether to have kids do to certain levels (john, you choose from level D or E bins) or to let them have complete free reign (where MANY kids don't make good I PICK choices!) I like this idea because you are somewhat controlling their selections while at the same time giving them autonomy and a chance to really think about good fit books. My question is this: do you still have a "classroom library" or just these books in the tubs? I feel like most of the books in my classroom library aren't getting chosen BECAUSE there is so much focus on good fit books.
    Thanks and happy shopping day:)

  3. I love this idea! You inspire me because you seem to be all about how to help children learn and grow and not just about how things look in the room. I learn so much from your practical ideas. Thank you.

    1st in Maine

  4. Thanks for this post! I like that you have book tubs. I'm trying Daily Five and CAFE this year for the first time and I've been at a loss at how I will arrange my library. Right now, I have it separated into genres. My plan was to level a box a night and then label each box with the genre, as well as all the levels included (a la Beth Newingham)... but I have not been as devoted to that cause as I was in the summer. :o) Do you have genre boxes? Or are all your books separated solely by levels? You've given me much to think about! :o)

    Mrs. Lopac Teaches...

  5. Thanks for all of the comments! I'd highly recommend not wasting the time to "level" each and every book. The way I've done it gives me some peace of mind but also allows children the opportunity to pick good fit books. I think I should do another post, focused on my entire classroom library! I have an extensive library, and the "leveled" tubs I mentioned are only a portion of the books that my first graders read.