One of the most important components of a classroom is books, books, books! According to Scholastic, an effective classroom library should contain a minimum of 300-600 books. Wow, that’s a lot! How do you keep them all organized? Some teachers are challenged by having a ton of classroom books, but not knowing how to group or store them effectively. If that sounds like you, keep reading!
Here are five tips on organizing your classroom library:
1. Have a plan… How do you want to categorize your books?
Some teachers sort by level, genre, author, or theme. Think of the categories that would make sense for you and your students when you need to find certain books. As you plan this, consider the age of your students, how they will access or “shop” for books, and how they will return books. No matter how you choose to organize your classroom library, alphabetizing can help you and your students easily find what you’re looking for.
2. Store your books in bins or baskets that will last!
There is nothing worse than having an organized classroom library and then a book basket breaks, or cracks, and just like that, books are EVERYWHERE! Investing in book bins that are strong enough to hold your classroom books safely, no matter who is handling them, is imperative. Choose book bins that students can easily pull off and put back on your shelves.
3. Create clear, kid-friendly labels for your library.
After organizing your books into categories and bins, be sure to label each bin clearly. Consider the age of your students when doing this. You might want to put a word and a picture/symbol on the labels. You want your students to be able to find the books they need without your help! Color coding bins and labels is also a great idea!
4. Have a plan for students to get their books.
Develop a “book shopping” schedule for your students to follow. One way to do this is to have a few students shop each day. This can be done in lieu of their morning work that day or right before your reading block begins.
Students should have enough books in their book bin to keep them reading during the entire reading block without needing to get more books. Depending on their current reading level, this could mean students have as many as 10 books in their book bin or just two!
Have students shop for new books as you see fit; typically once a week is good. Remember, students can read the same book more than once. Practice makes perfect!
Post your shopping/check-out schedule in a place where all students can reference it. If you limit the number of students who “shop” to a few at a time, your books will stay organized.
5. Have a plan for students to return their books.
Don’t forget to think of a way for your students to return their books in an orderly fashion. Some teachers have a return bin where students can drop off their books. Some teachers pick a reliable student to re-shelve books. Other teachers train all of their students to put their books back in the correct spots. Whatever way works for your class, be sure to spend time teaching these procedures as they will pay off in the long run.
What works for you and your classroom library? We would love to hear ideas that have worked for you!