Saturday, November 15, 2014

Making the Most of Your Classroom Library

When I was a classroom teacher, one thing I was extremely proud of was my classroom library. Books have always been extremely important in my life and I wanted to convey that to my students through a rich and extensive library. I scoured library sales, found deals online, and used all of the Scholastic points I could find to build my library. 

I had close to 1,000 books in my library, separated only into fiction and nonfiction sections. My students often told me they couldn't find books they liked. It's not that the books weren't in there, it was the way I was organizing my library that was the problem. 

I decided to make my library more student friendly. A trip to to the store to buy tons of buckets, labels, and a large variety of stickers was all I needed to make it happen (seriously though, this project took hours upon hours of work, but it was completely worth it!)

Here's how to do it: 

Gather all of your books and start placing them into categories one by one. My two favorite ways are by genre and themes. There are a ton of different genres and themes you can categories your books into. I chose to organize my books into genres, but have recently discovered organizing books by themes, and I LOVE this idea as well! Below are a few examples of different genres and themes.

Sample genres: Caldecott winners, classics, mysteries, fantasy, adventure, school, animals, etc. 
Sample themes: friendship, families, inspiring others, love of reading, perseverance, respect, etc. 

Once you've sorted all of your books into genres or themes, put them in buckets. I've seen those fancy colorful buckets in the online teacher stores, but the prices can be pretty steep. I bought clear plastic Sterilite buckets and they worked perfectly! 

Label each bucket with the genre or theme and decide on a color coding system. Each genre bin should have its own color coded sticker on the front, with matching stickers on the back cover of each book in that genre (see the pictures below for an example).

The sticker system is SO important for keeping your library organized. It holds students accountable for returning books to the correct bins (it's almost kid-proof). Though it's very time consuming, it's well worth it when you don't have to re-organize your books at the end of the year! 


 


One thing I definitely would've done is add some packing tape as a sort of protective layer over the stickers. This would prevent stickers from falling off! Instead, there was a routine in my classroom that if you found a book without a sticker, you put it in a special bin on top of the bookshelf. I would put a new sticker on those books and put them back in the correct bins. 

After organizing my library this way, students no longer complained that there was nothing they liked to read, and I no longer had to spend a lot of time looking through hundreds of books for one specific title. I even noticed that students were better able to discuss characteristics of genres during our conferences! 

How do you organize your classroom library?

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