Spanish class library – How to start one and what to do with it

April 3, 2018 Mis Clases Locas by Allison Wienhold

Inside: How to start a Spanish class library. How to get funding, where to buy books, as well as what to do with your new class library in Spanish class. 

How to start a Spanish class library

Where do I get money to start a class library?

Check national, state, and local language organizations for World Language grants. Also, talk to your administration, counselor, union, or education association for local education grants in your county or state. I personally got my state IWLA grant, as well as a local education grant twice. Here is a post I wrote about How to write a grant

Put your project out there and see if family friends and strangers want to help support you. Here are a few popular options:

Free books
Free is always the best price, here is a way that each year I have gotten free books to add to my library in Spanish – How to get free books in Spanish

ASK! I know it is hard to beg for money, but if you never ask, you will never get any money.

  • First, talk to your school library to see if they can use funds to purchase books in Spanish.
  • Then, ask the PTO or school foundation if they have money for books.
  • If literacy a goal at your school? See if you can use literacy money to buy books.
  • Also, ask your curriculum director if you can use your textbook or curriculum money to buy leveled readers instead.
  • Do not forget, propose your idea to your administration and see if they can find the money somewhere to support you.
  • Finally, does your school have a book fair? See if you can use the points earned to get books in Spanish. Or take advantage of the Spring buy one get one free fair to get the most bang for your buck.

Where can I get books?

I have personally found that the best books for my classroom library are comprehension-based readers made for language learners. I also like current comprehensible Mundo en tus manos – news stories. Unless you are teaching heritage learners, these novelas are what are going to help make your students feel successful. They contain glossaries to help students when free reading and are written with a manageable amount of high-frequency words with many cognates. There are a few bigger publishers, but also independent books seem to keep popping up, which is awesome. I personally buy ALL THE NEW READERS. Here is where I shop:

To see many of my classroom library recommendations all in one place, you can visit My Amazon Store book list!

Also, check out used book stores, teacher swap sites, garage sales and library sales to get books cheap!

How to start a Spanish class library


What to do with your Spanish Class Library

I personally start class on Tuesday and Thursdays with free reading. This year I started in November with Spanish 1 with 5 minutes and you can see more details in this post the game changer introducing FVR
As students enter class on FVR days, the instructions for free reading are projected. 
  • Pick a book (& remember where you got it to put it back)
  • Find a comfortable place to read
  • Spend the entire time with mouths closed and eyes on reading
  • If you do not know a word, you can look it up at the back of the book
I embed a timer in the slide, so students can see where we are at. We start with 5 minutes in Spanish 1 and build until about 15 minutes in upper levels. It works best when I READ TOO! It is not a time to get stuff done. As an example, we have to show students what it is like to read for enjoyment. I personally look forward to having a chance to read all of my new books in Spanish right along with the students. 
In my classes, we read for fun. We do not complete a log (unless they want to just track what page they are on). They do not have to do a report. It is all about learning to enjoy reading in Spanish. Sometimes I have them share for a minute with a partner about what they read. Sometimes I have them show me from fist to five (with fingers) how well they enjoyed their book. The accountability is low, but the engagement is generally high. It does work well as a bulletin board to have students rate or review books to recommend for others. 
Fast Finisher
One option when students finish any task is always to read. It makes me so happy when students voluntarily pick out the book they are reading to continue or ask to check it out to read at home. 
Novel Study
Before I had any class sets of novels I implemented an individual novel study in Spanish 4. Basically students did individual book projects, but we spent time in small groups or pairs discussing and comparing aspects of their novels such as characters, setting, theme, conflict, etc. You can read more about it here & here. Or if you have about 5 copies of multiple books, you could do literature circles
If you are more interested in teaching a full class novel with a class set of book, check out Teaching a Novel 101

How to start a Spanish class library

The uses for books in a world language class are endless! Do you have a library? What have I missed? How do you use it? Please share!

How to start a Spanish classroom library


Mis Clases Locas by Allison Wienhold

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  • Unknown April 3, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Great post, Allison! Don't forget about all the new authors that are only available on Amazon/CreateSpace!

  • Eric April 4, 2018 at 1:51 am

    Where did you get the display on top of your bookshelf? I'm looking for a better way to store/display my books.

  • Unknown April 29, 2018 at 6:47 am

    Love the fast finisher idea! If you're interested in a digital library option we make short, fun, interactive dual-language ebooks specifically for language learners 15+. The website is lingogoapp.com if you want to check it out and I'd be happy to send you a demo. We've just started selling school subscriptions and they're going fast!

  • Unknown May 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I'd also love to know where your display shelf is from. Thanks so much!

  • Michele April 7, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    The hyperlink for how to write a grant does not lead to that post – can you re-link please? I’d love to get some tips! ¡Gracias!

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