How about a super easy library checkout system for your classroom? Why? Because it’s what so many people are searching for on my website right now. And it’s a really really simple solution. It’s probably easier than trying to label tons of books, have barcodes, have a checkout system, have a form to fill out to check. Really, I prefer the KISS method. Keep It Simple Silly, right?
If it’s simple it’s going to be easy for your students to understand. It’s going to be easy for you to remember and it’s just going to work and it’s going to be easy for your parents to follow up with as well. For my books, I have as you can see, a ton of books in my personal library as well. Of course you can get those, those perfect scholastic book orders for your classroom. Ask parents for donations for holidays or for any type of gift. Garage sales, yard sales, flea markets, libraries that are getting rid of old books are a perfect place to grab really inexpensive books, many of which are still in great condition.
You can label your books however that you want. Me, personally, I have done both the Accelerated Reader leveling system, and I’ve also done the Fountas and Pinnell leveling. I personally like to have all of my books in baskets that are facing forward rather than on a bookshelf where they can’t really see anything about the cover at all and decide whether they want to. I like to have mine in book baskets by their level.
That way student’s aren’t reading things that are too hard, yet they’re not reading things that are too easy and there are lots of choices. It’s not, “You have to read this book.” Right? It’s, “You can pick from all of these books in a level that’s appropriate for you.” However you want to do that, even if you don’t have them leveled just have them on display it’s fine. It’s not going to have anything to do with the checkout system.
What you’re going to need for the checkout system is: a student, their book that they would like to check out, and a basic phone or a cheap digital camera.
It could be a super, super cheap digital camera that’s $9.99 at your local big box store and it’s really, really simple. The student stands there with the book, and you snap a picture of it. They could even do a selfie if they wanted. It doesn’t matter, it could be more fun. You could have a parent do it, if you have older students they could take pictures of each other with their book. Basically, if they take a picture with a book, you know they have checked that book out of your classroom library. I even have a photo below to show you exactly what it would look like.
He checked out that book, I know that he has it and when he returns it I simply delete the photo off right? Easy, then he takes a picture of the next one. Maybe once a week I go through my photos and say, “Hey Alex, do you still have, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly Said the Sloth?” “Yes? Okay I’m going to leave that photo in there, make sure that it comes back next week, we need to switch it out for a new book, so you need to finish that one up.”
When he returns it, delete the photo, take the picture of the next one that there is. Really guys, that’s all there is to it. Makes it super simple. One other really fun thing that you can do if you use this type of system is maybe once a week or every so often go through your phone, or even daily. You could assign it if you have older students or parent volunteers. Have them download all of the library photos to your computer or to a jump drive, Dropbox, or to a Google drive, however you like to save your images, and save them. Then at the end of the year, create a quick composite of all the photos of that one particular student and all the books they have read throughout the year.
They can actually see an image of, “Oh my goodness did I really check out and read 50 books this school year? I did, because I can see all of the titles.” You’ll be able to see their progression as they aged throughout the school year as well, which is a lot of fun. You could even, possibly, if you use this type of leveling, or even the color leveling, you would be able to see how their reading levels progressed throughout the year as well.
Do you have another classroom library checkout system you prefer in your classroom? There is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach. Having many options is a wonderful thing! Feel free to leave a comment below and share your best tips!