Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Classroom Library Organization {Part 1}

I have a confession. I, Liz, am a children's book-aholic. I don't really know how it happened. Well actually I do.

Ever since I got into the School of Education and saw my first practicum teacher's beautiful book collection, I knew that I had to start finding and collecting quality books for my future students' library.

So I began to scour library book sales, my old books, thrift stores, and basically anywhere else to start finding awesome books. I never paid more than $1 per book (unless it was a truly special/favorite book of mine) and my collection began to grow and grow.

I am really proud of my classroom library, Suzy, especially being a first year teacher. I can thank my cooperating teacher for showing me the huge importance of having an extensive classroom library. She was on the committee for picking the Charlotte Zolotow (I think that was the one...?) award winner and she got heaps of books to review. I learned a lot about high quality lit from her.

Now the problem with having an extensive library is how to organize it. Suzy didn't really organize her books for the kids. She just had assorted books in various tubs and each kid would take one tub and be able to read a huge assortment. Books that were not out for looking at were alphabetized by author in a cabinet. I knew that I wanted some more organization, mainly so I could find books quickly when I needed them.

This year, I did book colors. Each book had some colored dots on the black that matched a genre tub. Yeah, didn't really work well. It was difficult for the kids to put away and books were often not in the appropriate bins. So yesterday, we scraped (and by we I mean my kids) off all the dots.

Next year, I want to do sticker labels that I've seem on other teachers' blogs. It seems like it's a much better way to find and categorize books plus it seems easier for kids match the sticker label with a picture and words to the right bin than a color. 

Look how sad my room looks! It is getting so empty! I haven't gotten that far yet, but I did sort and box up my books by category. Basically, my room was a hot mess after school since I wanted to create more categories for my books. For example, instead of having an animals bin, I want to have more specific animal bins. Like dogs, cats, bears, etc. Instead of having a blanket non-fiction bin, I broke that up and matched by category so students will find mixtures of fiction and non-fiction in the bin about dogs. 

 Yikes, it was such a chore. Thankfully, all the books (with the exception of the books that fell in the sad box called Random Books) now have a home and a new category and have been neatly put away in the closet for the summer since my room is getting painted (and the LAST thing I want is for my books to get all painty!!)

I will also need to get more bins and baskets too but I'll cross that bridge when I get there. Plus all the labeling and stickering of the books. Yikes, I am tired just thinking about it. It truly is a labor of love, but so worth it. I love seeing my kids get excited to read books that I read to them already or see them, especially my lower friends, reading books for fun that they picked.. When we were picking off the color labels and sorting together, kids kept coming saying "Remember when we read this book?!" or "I loved this book!", Music to a teacher's ears. 

But I only have two more days of school (both of them being short days too!!) until summer. Then I start summer school in a week and then head home to get everything in order for the wedding!

Happy last days of school!


  1. I like matching my books by category, too! (And I'm definitely a book addict- you're not alone!) Good luck getting things all organized. Mine never quite got there this year, but maybe someday :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. I definitely revisited your blog post on your library for inspiration! It's a BIG job though! I just started making the labels today.