A classroom library is a great addition to your second-language classroom, especially as studies have found that children in classrooms with libraries read 50% more books than children in other classrooms. However, just having books available in a classroom library is not enough. This article discusses several characteristics of classrooms and teachers that nurture voluntary reading. In terms of second language acquisition, there is nothing else that would help students to acquire a language more than reading. While we can provide some time for free voluntary reading within school, we have a limited amount with our students. This means that we need to help children learn to value and enjoy reading so that they will read on their own outside of class.
In order to do this, there are several things that we as teachers can do in our classrooms. First of all, we need to provide an allotted amount of time for silent sustained reading (SSR) where students get to self-select their reading material. This reading material should come from a classroom library and it is important that the library be well-designed in order to entice children to WANT to read. According to Morrow and Routman, the following features are an important part in achieving this goal. A classroom library should be the focal area of the classroom: it should be attractive and highly visible. There should also be a private, partitioned area set apart from the rest of the classroom and there should be for five to six children. This can provide a quiet place for students to read when they have some free time. Comfortable seating for this area is a must, whether this means carpet, chairs, beanbags, or whatever you have at your disposal. The shelving for the books should allow for as many books as possible to be displayed cover-out (see Rain Gutter Bookshelves). The books should be organized into categories (ie. genre, theme, topic, author, reading level, content area, etc.) and there should be a wide variety of genres and reading levels. The library area can also be made more attractive with literature-oriented displays (ie. book jackets, posters, etc.) and props (ie. stuffed animals, puppets, etc.).
It is also helpful for teachers to present literature to their students daily, even if this involves just talking with the class about a good book that you read recently or a book that you enjoyed when you were their age. You should also provide children with opportunities, time and materials to engage in book-related activities.