Margin Notes



It’s All About the Books is the dream “how-to” book for organizing a school’s world of books in a way that gets the right book in the right place at the right time….in the hands of a student ready to learn!

Authors Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan have been coworkers for 24 years, with the last fifteen years spent developing systems that will create bookrooms and classroom libraries that encourage student choice and support teaching goals for both ELA and content area teachers. It had never occurred to me that there would be professionals tasked with this job, but it makes perfect sense that there are experts in this precise and essential field. Luckily, they share their expertise in an accessible manner for educators everywhere.

Anyone who has had any responsibility for managing bookrooms or a classroom library will love how this book brings to mind practically EVERY question that could ever be asked or considered when designing book collections in an effective way: How do we make purchasing decisions when we frequently don’t know what we already have? How many schools have you been in that have a clear and up to date inventory of their book collection? How do we organize the book bins in our classrooms? Could students be organizing bins based on thematic patterns they are noticing? Could we improve reading instructions by improving our organizational strategies?

The answers to all these questions are found in this clearly-organized book. Carefully curating a collection demands a great deal of effort and time, and the expertise shared by two professionals with a combined background of 30 years in doing this work takes the guess work from the reader offering a clear how-to.

Teacher Takeaways:

  • Every move in this book is intentional and the intention is to get the right book in the right hands to keep students engaged as learners.
  • It gives an answer to all the questions you might consider, and many that you probably haven’t, when designing a library in your classroom.
  • You will learn how to do an inventory of resources.
  • There are many tips and tricks about how to get the most bang for your budget dollars.
  • The book is full of useful photographs showing exemplars of libraries.
  • It demonstrates both how to get more books and how to organize them to support readers’ choice and agency.
  • You’ll find tips to get your students involved in library upkeep.
  • You’ll learn how to find and organize digital resources.
  • Online resources include forms for taking inventory, lists of vendors, lists of tried and true favorite books, and more.
  • Resources are provided to assist in creating book collections to honour the diversity in classrooms.
  • The authors share very creative ideas for encouraging summer reading.
  • All author royalties from the sale of this book are being donated to the Book Love Foundation to get more books in the hands of readers.

The authors suggest that having a whole-school focus on the books available to support instruction and enrich readers is a valuable exercise in professional development. Reading this book as a school team and following its incredibly detailed step-by-step advice on how to organize book collections and to prepare for and budget for purchasing would be a worthwhile focus for any school staff. It is the needed template for a carefully planned approach to spending over the long term.

Is it time for a serious look at your school’s book supply? It’s All about the Books is a complete guide. Get everyone involved in one of the main pillars of our education system – a wealth of well-organized texts to support and hook growing readers.

Elizabeth Ann Walker is a life-long educator with a background in the performance arts and wellness. She served as vice chair for Pride in Education and was one of the first diversity leads in the province.



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