Organizing the Classroom Library
The library, or reading nook, is one of the most important areas of any classroom. Students need to be able to find books that are at their reading level quickly and easily. They also need to be able to put them back in the appropriate spots. As you start the new school year and worry about your reading area organization, try some of the tips below to help the classroom library stay neat and tidy.
Sort and Separate
Begin by separating your classroom library books into reading levels. While most early elementary grades primarily use leveled readers,there are always the book club books and donations that come in. Take a look at each book and determine where it falls in terms of the reading level. If you are not sure, check the back cover, as many early childhood books come with a grade level or reading level designation on the back. Once you have all of the books sorted by level, separate them by subject if there are enough of each level. Create a separate pile for science, math, history, readers’ theater, etc. for each. By having this two-step sorting process, it will be easier to keep the books organized and easier to find them when needed.
Establish a Coding System
There are a number of different coding systems that can be used to organize the separated books. You can organize them by color, by number or by letter. For kindergarten, color may be the best choice, while older grades can use a number or letter organizing system. After you have chosen a coding system, assign each pile a different color, number or letter. Using labels marked with the appropriate number or letter, or colored circles for a color coding system, label each book.
Baskets or Bins
After all of the books have been sorted, re-sorted, and labeled with a coding system, it is time to put them on the library bookshelf. While it may be tempting to just place them on the shelf in order, the odds of them staying that way for long are slim to none. The easiest way to keep the books organized is to place each group in its own basket or bin. If you have color coded your books, use different colored baskets to store each group of books. If you have used a number or letter system, label the baskets or bins with the appropriate letters. This will make it much easier for students to put the books back where they belong.
After taking all of that time to prepare the reading area, the last thing you want is for your hard work to be destroyed in a week’s time. To avoid chaos in the classroom library, take the time to thoroughly explain and demonstrate the system you have set up. Do not assume that your students will automatically know what to do; explain it to them. It is also a good idea to assign a class librarian who will sort and re-organize any out of place books every week. By making your students responsible for the class library, they will take better care of the books, as well as the organization of the space.
How do you organize your class library? What are some of the challenges you have faced with keeping it organized? What advice would you give others?
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