Classroom libraries can be a thing of beauty. I mean, just look at the awesome photos on Pinterest!
But they can also be a huge source of frustration if they aren’t organized. Hopefully this post will
help! If you don’t have many books, make garage sales, thrift stores, and Half Price Books your BFF.
Here we go!
1.Gather every book you have and stack them up. All of them. Assess what you are working with.
2.Collect any bins or buckets you have. It doesn’t have to be cute (ever, really) but certainly not at this point. Right now, you just want all of the random buckets you have so that books can be sorted.
3. As you decide how you will start organizing your library, write your genres ideas and levels on sticky notes OR start sorting and create levels based off of what you have.
4.Remove your teaching books/mentor texts and beloved read alouds. Remember to vary the genres (read: pull more than storybooks…read aloud nonfiction, magazines, etc…)you select to read aloud and sort those by units later.
**You should consider a place for them to be housed (small book stand maybe?)after you’ve read them aloud but they can still be safe but the kiddos can still enjoy them.
5.Sort out the books that blatantly fit in a genres. Authors, dinosaurs, holidays, poetry, fairy tales, series, etc… Get them out of the way and into a basket. This is the easiest sort.
6.The books that are left should be leveled. Sort them into two piles: “probable chance” and “fat chance.” Probably chance book are the ones that the titles LOOK mainstream enough that you’ll probably be able to find it online. Fat chance books are the outdated or maybe published independently- a random book from an outdated basal series…the ones that you won’t find at the school book fair.
7.Your “probable chance” pile can be leveled via the internet, apps, etc… level and house them. Write the level somewhere on the book but keep it consistent. I do the back of the book in the upper right hand corner.
8.Your “fat chance” pile should hopefully be small. You can give away, create a recess book basket, teacher’s favorite book baskets, etc… These are books that could be great for kids to read- but they don’t really fit anywhere.
9. At this point, every book should have a home! Consider allowing the students to create the basket labels with you to help with ownership. They can also help you label the books with colored sticky dots in the corner that match the sticky dot on the basket label. Or, if you’re wanting a more uniformed look, NOW is when you go buy your pretty buckets and print matching labels. Doing it at this point (instead of at the beginning of the process) ensures that you will buy the correct amount of buckets.
10.Consider allowing your library to change throughout the year. Nothing invigoraes a reading workshop like a fresh shipment of “new” books! Think about holding some books back and swapping them out as the year goes on.