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How to Organize Your Classroom Library

One of the biggest messes in your classroom at the end of the school year might be your classroom library. Whether you are missing some books while acquiring some from another classroom or the school library, the library area of a classroom is usually difficult to organize and keep organized throughout the school year. To stop your library from becoming a disaster, here are some tips as to how to organized a classroom library. 

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Who’s Are You? 

The first step to organizing your library is to make sure you clearly label all of the books you currently have or have acquired. I would suggest using a sticker with your last name on it or your room number. You can also write on the book itself. If you choose to write on the book, I would make sure you use a classroom number instead just in case you decide to leave. 

The benefit of putting something on all of the books to identify who they belong to is you know which books belong in your classroom. If you spot a book without your signature, you can put it in a “Return to Sender” basket so you aren’t taking books from anyone else. 

What goes where? 

Once you have properly labeled everything in your classroom library, you can start thinking about how you want to organize your books. There are several options you can choose from in terms of organizing including organizing by: 

  • Genre
  • Author
  • Series 
  • Reading level 

Any and all of these categories are great and sometimes you can use a combination of them. 

Organizing by Genre

If you are choosing to organize by genre, you will want to make sure you clearly label all of your containers with that genre such as “Mystery” or “Sci-Fi.” It would not be a bad idea to identity each genre by color and add a small sticker to each of the books that go in that category.

By color coding your library, you make it easier for your students to put the books back. Therefore, when they are done with sustained reading time, they know where they can put a book and if they didn’t finish, where to find it again the next day. 

Organizing by Author

If authors are more of your organizing style, then the traditional ABC system is probably what is going to be best for you. You can put your titles in alphabetical order by author and again color code if needed for younger students.

If your classroom library has only a few authors showcased or you want showcase a specific author, you can have containers holding that specific author. Some classroom teachers will showcase one book or author a month. In this case, you could have an “Author of the Month/Week/Unit” container that holds that special author. 

Organizing by Series

I love a good book series. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Little Monster, The Bernstein Bears the list really goes on and on. So if you are a series lover like me, you may want to organized your classroom library into “series.” Often times when students find a series they like, they will go back to those books over and over again. You can even add a “Same Author Different Book” section to this organizational system to introduce more books to your students. 

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Organizing by Reading/Lexile Level 

Another way to organize your books is by reading level. As educators we are all aware that we may have a wide array of reading abilities in our classroom. If this is the case, you may want to organize your classroom by reading level. To organize your classroom library by reading level you could color code, use animal pictures, or simply number different containers.

You as the teacher would know what each color, letter, picture, or number meant, but the students would not. Which book level you want them to read can be told to them simply by a small card you put on their desk that says, “Please find an orange/two/ “b”/monkey book to read today.” Students will have fun looking for the book they need and will still be reading at their own level. 

With this organizing system, you will have a clear idea how much guiding you need to do during guided reading time as well. Plus, knowing students are reading on their level will help you see their fluency improve in the long run. 

Where to go? 

Once you have labeled everything and figured out an organization system for your library this summer, you need to decide what you are going to store them in. There are several options out there including: 

  • Stackable cubby bins 
  • Fabric bins 
  • Storage baskets 

I personally would choose something that is plastic because it is easier to label. You will also want to make sure you have a book shelf or some sort of storage space that your library can be neatly tucked into. 

If you are running low on your budgeted funds or you can’t dip into your pocket any deeper, remember you can always go on Donors Choose and ask for help organizing or even building your classroom library. Donors Choose is a great website to use when you need supplies for your classroom that isn’t in the school’s or your own budget. People will donate to your classroom and simply ask that you show them pictures and write a little thank you note. 

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What now?

The summer is a perfect time to get started on organizing your classroom library. Now is the time you have to experiment with different organization methods as well as checkout methods for your students. By following the three simple steps above, you can make your classroom library look beautiful all year long. 

xoxo Farrah Henley
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