Linking up my Classroom Library

by becky on July 14, 2011

So yesterday while I was blog stalking surfing I saw that Audrey at The Sweet Life of Third Grade was having a classroom library linky party. I consider my library the heart of my classroom so I thought I’d link up.

I remember my first year of teaching. I had one bookshelf full of books and I thought I was set. Then, my 34 students came in my classroom and I learned that I did not have nearly enough selection, levels, or copies of books. I knew I needed to beef up my library, but didn’t know how to do it without spending a TON of money. A few years later, when she transferred to my school, I remember walking into Melissa’s classroom and being amazed by the shelves and shelves and shelves of books. I immediately asked her how she was able to afford so many books. Her brilliant answer: Scholastic Book Clubs. I hadn’t really promoted them too much my first few years of teaching. At the time it wasn’t really a focus of my school and until I saw Melissa’s library, I never understood what a classroom library could look like. Sooo, I slowly but surely started buying books and really encouraging my students to order from the book clubs.

Then, I came across Beth Newingham’s AMAZING website and I realized I needed to step up my game. I took a cue from Melissa and got ALL my bins at Walmart. They were between $1.50 and $3.00 depending on the size. Now, I love me some Dollar Tree, but I knew I needed sturdy bins that would last. Then, I decided to level EACH and EVERY stinkin book. Let’s just say, after book 1,000, I was beginning to talk to myself. Seriously, I think at one point Junie B. and I talked about the weekend. 😉 Based on Beth’s Colored Coded Leveling System, I created my own version:

I leveled my books based on Fountas and Pinnell because I was told the following school year my district was going to adopt FnP for our district wide leveling system. I had a hard time deciding if I was going to group the books based on genre or based on level. I decided to go with genre and/or series. That way, all my Goosebumps books would be in the same spot even if they weren’t the same readability level. Then, I took the remaining books that weren’t part of a series and grouped them by genre. Here are pictures of my library from last year.

Next step: How to color code the bins. Beth’s organization is great. She has different colored bins. I had bought all white and decided to color code the labels. Here is what I came up with:

  • Pink- Fiction Chapter Books by Series and Favorite Authors
  • Yellow-Fiction Chapter Books by Genre
  • Blue- Fiction Chapter Books (kinda the random books that don’t fit in a particular Genre)
  • Purple- Picture Books by Genre
  • Green-Non-fiction books by Genre

By the time I was done, I had 50+ bins.

Okay, then, I thought… I have done ALL this work typing EVERY title into an excel spreadsheet, leveling, organizing, and labeling every book… I know my kids. They are going to put them back in the wrong places! I love them, but kids are kids and they just think, “yeah, this looks good here.” 🙂

Well, enter my OCD… Here is a close-up of how the BINS are labeled:

Then on the inside of every book I first put an address AND baseball label like this:

So, according to the baseball label, this book will be putin bin 14 in the pink section. (sorry it’s so hard to read)

Last step: I had to decide how I wanted students to check out/return their books. I’ll be honest. I don’t have them sign out the books. But, I do have some rules.

  1. You can check out two books at a time.
  2. Once you pick your books, you cannot change them for an entire week. (I do a weekly check out schedule where only 5 students return/check out books a day. That way they don’t feel like they are fighting for books and aren’t crowded or rushed.)
  3. You can return your books before the week is up, but you cannot pick any new ones. (This encourages them not to abandon their books right away)
  4. You can bring books in from home and keep them in your book bins when you aren’t reading them. (I have this thing about their desks not being too crowded.)
  5. Under no circumstances are you to put your returned books away. Place them in the…

The reason for rule #5 is so that the books don’t end up in the wrong bins. For the first few weeks of school, my students watch how I check the inside front cover and then place them in the correct bin. After a while, those “responsible” students start asking if they can return the books for me. And, after I watch them a few times, I end up handing it over to them for the rest of the year. Honestly, it works GREAT! And the best part… even if the bin is full of let’s say 20 books, it only takes about 2 minutes to get them back to the right spot. I love organization!!!

Wow! I didn’t think I was going to write this much. If you are still reading THANK YOU! Hopefully you can tell how much I love my classroom library and I hope I might have helped someone come up with ideas on how to organize yours.  I know this is a VERY quick overview so if you have any questions, just let me know!

After I set up my classroom for this year, I’ll post my reading nook along with library pictures. Have a great
day Blog Land!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Audrey July 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I love your library…very organized! I love, love, love Beth Newingham {secretly she is one of the reasons I decided to change my career and go into teaching…she is AMAZING!!!} I use an online site called Library thing
to catalog my books. I know there is a function to upload from a .xls so you may want to look into it – it’s a great way to stay organized!!
Thank you for joining my linky party!!
The Sweet Life of Third Grade


Ashley July 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

You are so organized!!! Your library looks great, mine is not nearly as organized. I think I could take some pointers from you!


Kelsey July 14, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Thanks for sharing! This is really helping me as I organize my 4th Grade library!


Ellen July 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Love your ideas… will be creatively borrowing them for my third grade library this year!! 🙂


Lisa July 27, 2012 at 2:29 am

I love your ideas for your classroom library, thanks for sharing! Where did you find your white bookshelves?


becky July 27, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I bought them at walmart. They are super cheap right now

Good Luck! Glad I could help! -Becky 🙂


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