Do you want to take some time this summer and organize your classroom books and library? If so, you have come to the right place. Let’s talk about it!
Step 1: Sort Your Books
Do you have a lot of books? If not, an easy way to collect some books, for very little money, is to look at yard sales and thrift stores. However, if you have mountains of books then you are ready to dive into sorting them. Organize your classroom books first by finding a large flat space (like the floor of your classroom) and designating a specific area for each category of book. You could do this my month, genre, subject, etc. I organize by month for holidays and specific books that are ALWAYS read during that month. But then I have a category for nonfiction books (animals, science, etc.) and for fiction stories that could be read anytime of the year (fairy tales, Froggy, etc.). It’s better to sort by broader categories first then you can get more specific depending on how much room you have in your storage containers.
Step 2: Contain Your Books & Label
Once you have done the hard work of sorting out your books, you can decide on where you will keep them and the type of storage containers you will use. I like to put my books in large plastic tubs on shelves that students can reach. Other books I keep behind closed doors and set them out AFTER I read them. You know…in case they walk away and I can’t find them. The important part, especially if you are sharing books with your students, is labeling the tubs so everyone knows what is in each tub. I like to use labels with pictures AND words. Here is my favorite labeling resource (I did not create this but I love using it).
Step 3: Set Up A Simple System For Your Classroom
Now it’s time to make it even more “kid friendly”! Once I have decided my broad (sometimes narrow) categories and have labeled the tubs and placed the books inside, I use a number system. I buy the round circle stickers and place them on the front of the tub AND on the back of each book. I assign a number to each tub, then every book that belongs in that tub gets the same number. When students put the books away they just have to match the numbers. This works extremely well with young children but it works great for all ages.
I still like having a large label on the front of each tub that has the category name and a picture because it looks better. I only put books in the tubs that I don’t mind my students handling. Books that I use for lessons I keep organized on a different shelf in larger tubs. I set those out in a different part of the classroom AFTER I read them to the class. This allows me to have easy access to my own books BUT also allows my students to enjoy ALL the books. The ones I read to my students don’t stay out all year. I change those out monthly.
Here is a picture of what the numbered classroom library looks like. I just moved schools when this picture was taken and I was scrambling to get everything set up so, I didn’t have the fancy labels on the front of my tubs (that came the following summer). These are older labels that I’d had on my tubs for years (created in Word). However, they still got the job done for that year. If you look very closely you will be able to see the numbers on the tubs.
Here is where I put my special books AFTER I read them to my students.
I hope this helps you feel hopeful about organizing a classroom library. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to work for you and your classroom.
Do you need to move schools, classrooms or are teaching for the first time? Check out this blogpost: