Organizing Your Classroom Library

11 Dec

Classroom libraries…so wonderful, so important, such a drain on time and money.  It feels like I’m never done reorganizing, restocking, and repairing mine.  I’ve tried a number of configurations over the years, some of which make me laugh when I think about them:

  • Alphabetical by authors last name.  This is when I was  a first year teacher.  It was a ridiculous method.  Children struggle with alphabetizing, so it’s out of order immediately, and it’s challenging for children to find genres they like, or books at appropriate reading levels.
  • Organized in bins by genre and author.  My second attempt at organizing my library.  An improvement over the first, but not quite enough guidance.
  • Completely leveled.  Having all of my books leveled definitely helped my most struggling students.  By fourth grade, they’re so used to reading books they don’t understand that the goal of “find a just-right book” rarely happens.  Unfortunately, this fostered in children a sense that they were “P” readers or “U” readers or “L” readers.
  • Genre, author, series, level, and partner bins.  Last year I reorganized my library into many categories.  Favorite authors have their own bins (Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl), favorite series (Harry Potter, Magic Tree House), genres (Fantasy, adventure, biography) and levels for my most struggling (J/K box, L box).  In addition, I have a partner book area.  These books are all leveled, and come in pairs, so that reading partners can enjoy books together.  I have these books leveled so that it’s faster for partners to find books (they still take forever to debate their choice) and I have them in a separate area so that they don’t get mixed in with individual books.

Book boxes organized by author, genre, or series.

So far, I’m happy with this arrangement.  Having the majority of my books organized by author, genre, and series, allows me to ask students, “What kind of a reader are you?  Who do you like to read?  What genre do you enjoy?”   I found that a relatively specific level of organization–for example, my fantasy books are divided into magical fantasy, adventure fantasy, and fairy/princess fantasy–lets children identify what they enjoy even more efficiently.


Partner books organized in levels.

Each book has a label with the name of the box and the number of the box typed on it, so that they can put the book back in its appropriate place.


Book label and book box label with the title and number of the box.

Scholastic has some more ideas about how to create classroom libraries.  Happy organizing!

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