I know there are many posts out there on classroom library organization. While there are already many, I decided to jump in and share how I organize mine. My library organization has worked for me the 8 years I’ve used it. Organization and especially of your class library and your classroom books is a personal thing. Everyone has their ways of organizing. So, I thought I’d share how I organized mine in hopes it might speak to a few people.
There are probably about 8 billion ways you can categorize your classroom books. The first thing I recommend you do is decide how you want to categorize your books and then separate them into those categories.
I chose to categorize based on types of books and series. I mainly focused on series of books that I had multiples of. For example, I have many Junie B. Jones books. So I have a Junie B category that only has Junie B books. I have a few of the Rainbow Fairy books, so those just go in the chapter book category since I didn’t have enough to make it’s own category and bin. Here are the categories I have….
Picture Books, Non-Fiction, Animal, Bugs, Science, Social Studies, Math, Sports, Chapter Books, Junie B Jones, The Littles, The Boxcar Children, Clementine, Judy Moody and Stink, Mystery Books, A to Z Mystery Books, Cam Jansen, Who Was/What Was, American Girl, Holiday, and School.
Ahhh…containers. Containers make my OCD heart happy! For my books, I use the three containers pictured below. Depending on the size of the books and how many are in the category, I choose which bin best fits the books. You can find these containers at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and I’m sure many more places. Dollar Tree and other Dollar stores also have bins similar.
Sterilite 6 Qt Storage – Great for chapter books
Sterilite 16 Qt Storage – Great for picture books, larger books, and a big amount of chapter books
Sterilite Medium Storage Basket – Great for large amounts of chapter books, picture books, large books
Another thing that I love probably as much as I love containers are labels! I love to label things. Like love it – like probably too much. My OCD side definitely got going with my classroom library and I was a label making queen. I decided to make labels to place inside each book. That way a child can look at the label/sticker and know what bin the book goes in. The label has the name/category of the book and then also a picture. When I taught first grade the picture was perfect for some of my friends who were still learning to read.
I recommend buying the labels at Costco. I was at mine the other day and they had a pack of 140 sheets which is 4200 labels for around $8. I use the white address labels. Here is a screen shot of what it looks like in Word. As you can see, very simple, but easy to understand.
After printing a few sets of each label, I got to work. I first made a label on card stock laminated to go on the front of the actual book bin. Then, I started labeling each individual book. I know it seems like a lot of work, but once you do it…it’s done. Then, as I get new books, I have extra labels in my desk drawer that I can use and then put in the correct bin. Once you get the first overhaul and organization part done, it is much easier.
We use AR (Accelerated Reader) at my current school. To prepare the books for AR, I used this awesome website called AR Book Find. It’s FREE! And, it’s awesome. All you do is type the title in of your book and it’ll tell you the level, a brief description, quiz number, points total, etc. If no book comes up in the search, then the book is not an AR book. This takes awhile as well, but again worth it in the end. Inside each book, I place the label, my name, and then also the level of the AR book. This way a child can quickly tell if a book they choose is in their AR level or not. Some teachers put the quiz number in so it’s easier when taking the AR test. I opted not to. One – it takes a while to do that. Two – I like having the kids type the title into the AR App. I think it’s good typing practice.
The last thing and one of the most important things is to model how you want the kids to find books and put books away. This past year, I did not model as much as I normally do and I regretted it. I was finding books in the wrong bin. I recommend modeling how to find the book and then how to figure out where it goes when you are done. I also recommend having a library helper job. This student’s job can be to check the library each day and make sure things are being put away in the correct bins.
I hope this was helpful! Happy organizing!