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: