My first year teaching I started the year with a single bookshelf that was hardly even filled with books. I have spent years since then (and LOTS of $$$) building up my classroom library. I love books. Especially children’s books. And I love finding books that I think my students will love. I’ve bought books everywhere; From library sales, to garage sales, to independent and big chain bookstores. I buy books on vacation and order them online. Sometimes I get great deals on books, like from Scholastic, or the sale section of bookstores, and sometimes I pay full price. But nothing brings more joy than having my students find and devour books from our classroom library! This post will give you a glimpse into how I organize my classroom library, and if you have any questions, feel free to ask away!!
My classroom has a lot of built-in shelving, but I felt like those shelves were not really conducive to goo book-browsing, so I slowly started to accumulate traditional book shelves for our classroom library. I currently have 4 standard bookshelves… 3 of them were ones that I got off of family that was going to give them away, so I only had to buy one.
My classroom library is organized in two sections: Fiction books that are arranged alphabetically by author, and nonfiction and fiction books arranged in baskets. Having these two sections for our classroom library makes it easier for my students to browse books and find what they are looking for. If they are looking for non-fiction books, favorite authors, books on a certain subject, or books in a series, they head to the book basket section of our library.
Book Basket Organization:
I created my Colorful Classroom Library Labels to organize this section of our library. The fit on our book baskets perfectly and help students select books that they would like to read. The baskets contain books on specific topics, favorite authors, or series that students are interested in reading. I switch these around a little every year according to my students’ preferences. Some years it seems like my entire class is into the Goosebumps books, or I have a few kids really interested in war books. Other years I don’t. I can easily change out the book basket labels though and move books around so that our classroom library meshes with what my students are looking for.
Individual Book Labels:
As organized as I thought my library was, students still had trouble returning books to the proper basket. In order to help them, I created Individual Book Labels to go with my library labels. The stickers are formatted to print on Avery labels, and can be cut in half and stuck on the back of each book. The stickers coordinate with the library labels so students can just check the back of the book to see where it goes!
I stocked up on book baskets from Really Good Stuff. Most of my baskets are medium-sized, which are perfect for chapter books. I also have large baskets that fit my larger sized books. I am ordering more large baskets this summer because the 4 baskets that we have become somewhat of a hodge-podge of different topic books that needed a home and we didn’t have a place for them!
Fiction Book Organization:
The majority of my fiction books are shelved on two bookshelves in alphabetical order by author’s last name. I think it is important for my 4th graders to learn how to find books they are interested in this way because this is how books are organized when they go looking for them at bookstores or in libraries. I want them to know how to navigate books arranged in this order to find what they want. Like books in the book baskets, keeping books arranged in alphabetical order throughout the year was a challenge. I didn’t need the order to be absolutely perfect, but if I student was looking for a book by an author who’s last name began with C, I wanted to make sure that they could find it in the C section, and that it wasn’t buried in the P section.
Last summer I created Colorful Library Rainbow Book Spine Labels to help with the organization and it has been amazing!! The books stayed organized throughout the entire year, and if a book was misplaced, it was easy to spot it by the colored label on the spine of the book and it could be placed back in its proper spot. This has been such a huge success this year and has saved countless hours of library organization for my students and me!
Read Aloud Books:
Now, the pictures that you see above are actually only about 2/3 of my books. The other 1/3 of my books are hidden on the built-in shelves behind curtains in our classroom (I don’t have any pictures of these right now!). These are the books that I use for read-alouds. I have these books organized by subject or series (for example, I have a bin of holiday books, character development books, books for Black History Month, etc.). I take these books out as I read them. After I read them, I keep them out for my students to read for a few weeks, and then I put it back in the tub behind the curtains.
I also have a few tubs of books that I don’t read aloud, but they coordinate with certain units of study and I want to wait to put them out until we are at that point in the year. This is true for a lot of science and social studies books (owls, California Gold Rush, volcanoes, etc.)
That is a gereral look at my classroom library. If you are interested in learning more, you can see some of my previous posts:
WOW your library looks amazing! I was just wondering if you level your books?
Love, love, love your classroom library and how you have a mix of organization! I am striving to make my library more like one you would find in a full size library and I feel like by organizing the fiction books by author that would be a great start! The spine labels really seem to make it easier for the students too!
Wow!!!! I strive to have your classroom library!! Not only do I have very limited space in my new classroom, I just learned my new school doesn't offer a school library!!! I am brainstorming ideas of how to get a major library going on in my classroom!!! Thanks for sharing
I will be making my library look like yours next summer for sure! I love the labels you use and the colored spin labels. I don't always like how long it takes my kids to go through the baskets, so I do like the way you have it organized both ways. Thanks for sharing and I will definitely be grabbing up your labels!!
Love your library! It's so colorful and organized! I like how you organized the chapter books by alphabetically by author. Such a great idea!
Fifth Grade Wit and
This was a perfect post fore to read right now. I am moving from 4th to 3rd and sort of to a new state. I leveled my library using Accelerated Reader and they don't use that at my new school. So I have been trying to figure out what would be best this summer. I'm not sure leveling my books with the guided reading level is best either. Ideas, advice, anything would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you for your blog and the ideas and resources you share. I always look forward to hearing what you have to say!
Wow, wow, wow. Absolutely stunning and amazing. You are so talented my sweet friend. I am sure your kids LOVE visiting your library!!
I love your library…can you please tell me where you got those letters for the word READ on the shelf?? Thanks.
Where can I get the display book stand? I have looked everywhere!
Just added this to the "summer projects" list I have going on my Google Drive. Your library is absolutely gorgeous and I love that there are so many ways to identify where books belong. Thanks from a very busy Montessori teacher!
I just wrote a "Reflect & Refresh" post on my blog, and I reflected on how AMAZING using the color-coded library system was in my classroom this past year. Thank you for sharing your brilliance!!
Hi Stephanie!! Wow, thank you so much!!! I'm so glad it helped you stay organized this year!! I don't know what I did before having the color-coding system! Ha!
This post is awesome!!! Your library is absolutely beautiful. I love your book labels! 🙂 It was so nice to see you in Vegas! 🙂
How do you determine which fiction books you put in genre baskets and which went on the shelf in alphabetical order?
I am organizing my library right now and I love how you have most of your fiction books on a shelf, binding out, in alphabetical order. How did you determine which fiction books went on the shelf and which went in genre baskets? Obviously, I am putting my picture books in baskets but I'm still trying to figure out which chapter books to keep in genre baskets and which to put on the shelf. Thanks!
I have a question about the labels staying on your chapter books. I know you print them off on Avery labels, but how well do they stay on the spin? Do you find that you have to replace the labels or do you use those clear library label covers to keep them on? My fear is with the kids opening the books that the labels would come off. Any advice?
Hi Jillian! I’ve used the labels on my chapter book spines for several years now and they hold up really well! I don’t use anything to cover them! Every now and then I’ll have to replace them on well-loved books if something spills on the book spine (like water) or if the book spine starts coming apart from wear and tear, but other than that they don’t require much maintenance! Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions!
What do you have stated on the strips underneath your CAFE letters and definitions? I am creating a CAFE wall and am curious what you placed on your wall.
This looks incredible! I am working on getting all the details ironed out with a coworker to start one at the daycare I work for. Do you have any tips for us? Our age range is birth thru 12 years and we’re looking at creating a library for the staff to pull from to build on our monthly to bi-weekly units.
Again this looks amazing, I wish I had one like that in my class growing up! Thanks for your time!