Over the years I have gone through several classroom library makeovers. I’ve tried different tubs, labels, sorting systems, and anything else that could possibly make my life easier. I’m going to take you through some things that have and have not worked for me, and some solutions that have made my life a little easier!
There are so many ways to organize your classroom library. How you set up your books, bins, or whatever you may use needs to work for YOU and YOUR students! Think about your grade level of learners, how many books you have, and how you want your students to access these books.
I’ve had lots of different bins over the years. One problem I have is changing my classroom theme or decor way too often. So when I had primary colored book bins, that only worked for a short amount of time…
After about 7 years I moved to clear bins. I liked this look a lot because they could be used no matter what colors I decorated with.
But this kept happening! My bins weren’t the perfect size. The books would fold over and bend because the bins weren’t quite tall enough!
My new solution? Wire Baskets from Wal-Mart. I know they may seem pricey, and they may not what you are looking for, but I can’t tell you how much money I’ve spent on bins over the years. Plus, with the amount of books that I’ve purchased, I might as well take care of them!!! I decided to not have a million different baskets for every single little topic or author, so I also didn’t need quite as many baskets as before. The nice thing about these baskets is they come in a few different sizes. I bought a mix of the medium and large baskets based on how many books I had in each category. The medium baskets are really the perfect size for most of my categories. I also love how you can see straight through to the books. This makes for easy perusing and choosing!
The first thing I did was bring ALL of my books home. I began sorting them into broad categories rather than by author or character. Then this happened…
I gave up approximately 100 times and just plopped on top of the books. I may have been a bit dramatic, but it felt like the task was never going to be complete!!!! My guest room was a sea of books for a couple of weeks and it just about drove me bonkers. I’m not good at having uncompleted projects. But I managed to push on!!!
For so many years I had books that just didn’t have a home because they didn’t fit into the categories I had chosen. I had a Kevin Henkes bin, but there were only 8 books in it. Maybe at one point I had a ton of Fly Guy books, but some got lost and destroyed so that category dwindled down. I wanted the maximum amount of books in my library. So, broad categories it was!
I don’t know if you can see this or not, but look closely. Do you see the ziploc bags? I also put my books on CD in the book bin buckets. SAY WHAT?! It’s true. I have an addiction to buying books AND books on CD. I decided that some kids may just want to read those books instead of listening to them on CD. Why not go ahead and sort those books with the other ones? Students are more than capable of grabbing a book on CD from a book bin, I promise! Now they are sorted by category instead of just all grouped together. This will also help me to see if we have a book on the subject I need for teaching 🙂
Although my categories have always seemed pretty simple to me (I mean don’t all Eric Carle books look similar enough to you??!!) my students seemed to never get what I was thinking! Here’s what I decided to do…
-Each category has a number on the basket.
-Each book inside that basket now has a number on the upper righthand corner.
Simple, right?! Now I can look through a bin and easily see if any books are misplaced! When labels are on the back, inside, or somewhere else it seemed like students never looked at them. I was constantly going to the library getting frustrated because so many books weren’t in their homes! While my kids were working they would be interrupted with, “Is this real life, guys?? Why are there Clifford books in the Science book bin???” #iamashamedtosayit #butitstrue
I now have 25 baskets. When creating my categories I thought about books I would be buying in the future. I didn’t overthink things. If a book was about building character, bullying, or being unique- those went in my “character” bucket. I also grouped certain books. I have a lot of Arthur and Amelia Bedelia books, but not enough to fill a whole basket. So, I grouped favorite characters together.
PS- I really wish I would have paid attention to the labels that are straightened before snapping a picture.
Right now all of my books are living at home, so I just set up a special place for our library in the playroom for my two kiddos. They read ALL THE TIME, so it made sense to give them access to all the books throughout the summer since I brought them home to organize anyways! They are already rockin’ the new organization. Book clean-up is now fast and easy 🙂
Before I go, I wanted to share the labels that I made in case you wanted them for your classroom library. I’m not making different styles or sharing my specific basket labels because I know they won’t be what you need. However, if you’d like to use my template to make your own click HERE
Do you have pictures of your classroom library online or on a blog? I’d love for you to leave a link below so that people can see your library! I know that my solution won’t work for everyone, and it’s always so nice to see other options out there!!!
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