I know so many of the readers here at The Organized Classroom Blog ask every year about the best classroom library organization ideas. I am pretty positive that the decision for how best to set up YOUR classroom library needs to fall to your preferences and that it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. I have seen some amazing class libraries and they were all set up completely different from one another! What I CAN share with you though is how I have always set up mine.
First, you need to decide on how you plan on setting up your library. Do you want to use the AR system, Guided Reading levels, lexiles, sort by book genres, or maybe by topics? Any of the above will be suitable as long as you are happy with it. Personally, I have always sorted my books via either guided reading levels (Fountas and Pinnell) or by AR levels. It was based on the system that was used in the school library, as well as what the expectation from administration was so that played a huge part in how I set up my own.
In the beginning, I would take 2-3 days at the beginning of the school year to get my books labeled. After a few years, I was able to either use parent volunteers, or maybe a Saturday afternoon to do the new additions from the last year. I would look up the level via AR Book Find or Fountas & Pinnell Level Books website. I then used a plain old sharpie marker to write inside the book cover the book level and the points value (if it was an AR book).
Then, I grouped the books into categories based on book level, such as 2.0-2.9 (2nd grade level books). Here is another photo where I actually have the Guided Reading Level on the front upper corner (F), and then when I changed schools, I moved to an AR system, so I also have the AR colored sticker on the bottom left on the book spine.
Last up, I bought dollar store baskets and placed the books in by their groups. If I had too many, I made more than one basket. I like my books standing up facing forward so that they are easy to sort through, rather than spines out on a bookshelf. I think so many kids (and adults for that matter) are visual, and being able to see those book covers brings some excitement to looking through the stack for the perfect book!
To label my baskets, I printed out book basket labels (check below for your free space-themed labels) and mounted them on colored cardstock. Laminating them will make them a bit stronger so they last a little longer. Hole-punching one hole in the middle of the top (or 1 hole in each of the upper corners), I then attached to my basket with an o-ring so it was easily changeable if I decided to change my theme the following year.
The baskets sit on my bookshelf, 2 per shelf usually. That might not be the most efficient way to utilize the space, but I do feel as though students are far more interested in the books when they get to see them, flip through the baskets, and see all the options directly in front of them.
Do the books get mixed up? Absolutely. Even after I remind them all day long? Yup. One way to combat that is to assign one or two students the classroom job once a week to go through the baskets and pull out the books that are out of place. After that is done, it is a simple task of replacing them back into the basket in which it belongs. If you have wee ones, you probably won’t have as many baskets out anyway, so even if this chore falls to you (or an upper grades helper or parent volunteer), it won’t take very long at all.
How about a freebie to help?
That is the condensed version of how I have set up my classroom library – any tips, tricks, or ideas you want to share? We would love to hear them in the comments below.