Your classroom library can be one of the most inviting parts of your classroom. However, it can also become very disorganized, and it is time-consuming to keep it looking nice. Here are some tips to help you organize your classroom library and keep it neat all year long.
If there’s one thing teachers have in common, it’s a love of books. We pick up cheap books anywhere we can find them, because we want to instill a love of reading in our students.
Before we know it, we have hundreds of books and don’t know what to do with all of them!
Tips to Organize Your Classroom Library
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1. Decide how you want to organize your books.
There are several different ways to organize the books in your classroom library.
There is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you are consistent with all of your books.
I chose to organize my books by genre and by level. Genre allows my students to select a type of book they know they like. Leveling the books helps them choose a just-right book. We are using Lucy Calkins Units of Study for reading workshop, and she has students include the level on their reading logs. Having the level right there makes it so much easier!
2. Sort your books into piles based on categories.
If you’re organizing the books by series, make a pile of Magic Tree House books, a pile of Who Was books, a pile of Boxcar Children books, and so on until all of your books are sorted.
When I was done, I had 6 piles for the different genres.
- Realistic Fiction
- Historical Fiction
3. Level your books (if you are choosing to do that).
This is the step that will take you the longest, but here are some apps that will make it go faster.
- Scholastic Book Wizard App – FREE
- Book Retriever – FREE
- iBookShelf – $1.99
- Book Scanner – $1.99
- Level It App – $3.99
- Literacy Leveler – $4.99
All of these apps tell you the book’s level. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book with your phone, and the F&P level, DRA level, and lexile level will be shown.
Unfortunately, not every book will be in the database. Once you’ve scanned enough books, you’ll get an idea of the characteristics of books at each level. Do your best to label the ones that aren’t in the system.
If you’re a level or two off, it’s not the end of the world. Remember, our goal is to level books so students select books that are close to their independent level. One level higher or lower isn’t going to hurt them.
I’ve always used Scholastic Book Wizard to level the books in my classroom library. It’s really easy to use. I just scan the book, put a piece of masking tape on the side of it, and write the level on the tape with Sharpie. That way the kids can see the levels easily when the books are on the bookshelf.
4. Find a way to show your students where the books belong in your library.
If you’re the only one who knows where your books belong, you’ll spend all your time putting books away. . .or your classroom library will become a disorganized mess when the kids put their books away.
Develop a way for students to know where books belong. Some teachers put stickers on their books that say the name of the bin where the books belong. For example, “Matt Christopher” labeled books go in the “Matt Christopher” bin.
I label the shelves in my library with the names of the different genres. Then, I use different colored dot stickers from the Dollar Store to show where the books belong. All of my mystery books have a blue sticker in the corner. My students know the blue sticker books go on the mystery shelf.
5. Decide how you will showcase the books in your classroom library.
Once you have the supplies you need, you can display your books neatly in your new library.
I organize my chapter books on bookshelves. They are sorted by genre and organized by level. My picture books are in baskets on top of the bookshelves.
Now your library is nice and neat. Everything is in its place. . .but how will you keep it that way?
I’ve found that 24 kiddos taking books and putting them back all the time leads to a disorganized classroom library. Books are on the floor, on top of the shelves, and stuffed in desks.
All those books you worked so hard to collect are getting destroyed! Here are some tips for keeping your library nice and neat all year long.
Tips for Keeping Your Library Organized:
- Give each student a book box. This is a place for students to store their books, so they don’t get shoved in the bottom of desks.
- Assign students days to go “book shopping”. If all of your students are allowed to get books whenever they want, you’ll never know who the culprit is when your books are out of place. Divide up your class and give each student a day of the week. That day is the only day the student is allowed to book shop, and he needs to fill his book box with enough reading material for the week.
- Have the students put their books into a “Library Return Bin”. Just like the school library has a spot to return books, your classroom library can have one, too. On their book shopping day, students put the books they’re done with in the return bin. Now, you’re wondering how those books get back on the shelves. That’s the next tip.
- Make “Librarian” one of your classroom jobs. Spend time at the beginning of the year making sure the students know where the books belong. Then, each week assign 2 students to be the librarians. It’s their job to put the return bin books back on the shelves at the end of each day.
The End Result
Using these tips has helped me keep my classroom library neat and tidy. That doesn’t mean I don’t find the occasional stray book in a desk. In fact, one student still had a stockpile of about 10 books in his desk by the end of the year. (He was an avid reader and liked to be able to pull out a book at a second’s notice.) However, this system has definitely cut back on the number of books strewn across the floor and missing pages from being torn in cluttered desks.
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What Do You Think?
What do you do to keep your classroom library organized?
I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
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