You may have asked yourself: Where do I begin when setting up a classroom library and how should I include books for Jesus time? Setting up a classroom library can be very costly and overwhelming. It’s important to think about each child’s possible interests and have a variety of books available for them. As a Lutheran educator, I find it especially important to have a large selection of books centered on Christ in our classroom library to help encourage students to gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for us.
While it would be nice if every child in my classroom picked up the Bible as their first choice, that often is not the case. Having books with maps, pictures, illustrations, and simplified short stories helps perk up their interest. I have found it most helpful to have books about heaven, Baptism, and the Trinity (specifically 3 in 1 by Joanne Marxhausen) because those are topics about which children are naturally curious and have questions.
Bible Story Books
One of my classes’ favorite books is 120 Bible Stories by Dawn Weinstock and Gail Pawlitz. I enjoyed it so much that I made sure I had a copy for each student in the class. This collection of Bible stories presents the history of God’s grace-filled interactions with His people. Each story includes discussion questions, a memory verse, and a full-color illustration. My students also enjoyed looking at the maps and timelines.
In my class, I had a jar of Popsicle sticks with a number on it that corresponded to a student. I used these to help me pick a student fairly. On Fridays, after our Jesus time lesson from the One in Christ curriculum, I would pull three Popsicle sticks, so three students, and allow each to pick any story in 120 Bible Stories they would like to read. We then would all sit at the carpet and follow along as I read the story aloud. This encouraged questions and allowed me to get to know my students in a new way based off their choice of story. This Friday tradition became something my students looked forward to and helped bring a new dynamic to our daily routine.
Another way to incorporate this book would be to have students read it in partners. You may not always have time to read three stories, so having students read in partners allows them to each read a story of their choice to their partner.
One idea that I loved to incorporate into my classroom during different seasons of the church year, was to display Arch® Books around the classroom in unique spots. I would put the books on display on the windowsills, the tray of our whiteboards, on book stands I had purchased from the dollar store, and on a different shelf from our library to bring a change to our routine. Then, after our designated language arts time, I would set aside 10-15 minutes at the end of our lesson for read-to-self time. I would instruct students that they needed to find an Arch Book anywhere around the room and read it.
Arch Books can easily help fill a classroom library at an affordable price. There are so many different books, especially for Easter, Christmas, Good Friday, and so on, it allowed for each student to have their own during quiet reading time. Since there can be so many seasonal books and so little time to read them, it is a great way to allow your students to read the books on their own while incorporating reading and Jesus time in their literacy period.
Lastly, the Growing in Faith Bible is a beautiful, engaging, picture-heavy Bible that my students could hardly put down. Inside the Bible, there are roughly eighty character sketches that talk about significant people in the Bible and their jobs, families, and connections to Jesus. Big words are highlighted and explained, as well as big questions answered. Having another type of Bible in the classroom allowed my students to want to choose it during their free reading time and we often had to learn how to take turns with it. Books create an avenue for questions to be asked and great classroom conversations to be had!
Creating a classroom library can often take time, research and of course, money, but is well worth the effort when you see your students learning and growing in their love of Christ.
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