Classroom Library Organization That Works For You
If you were to pick up one of my classroom library books, you would probably see 3 different labels on them. I have tried SO many different organization and labeling systems over the years. My current system has worked well for my third graders, but before I dive into that, let’s run through the disasters from the past.
*If you are here from Pinterest and just want to grab the labels, scroll at the way to the bottom of the post or click here.
1. Number System Fail: When I got my first classroom, I went in during the summer and carried in the bags of books I had been collecting all throughout college. I was so excited. My mom came in to help me label books and we spent hours sorting, I honestly don’t even remember how, and then labeling books with numbers.
What did the numbers correlate to? The numbers on the cubbies the books should be returned to.
Do you think kids paid attention to a white label with a number stuck on the bottom, back of a book? Nope!
What a fail! They probably had such a hard time finding a book to read that they had no way to remember where to return it to.
2. Fiction vs. Nonfiction Fail: A couple years later I decided I would separate my books into fiction and nonfiction.
“The old system was a mess”, I thought.
“They need an easy way to figure out where to put books”, I thought.
“Fiction/nonfiction will never change, even if i get more books, they will still know how to sort them”, I thought.
So…this was a fail for many reasons. First, because the amount of fiction I owned far outweighed the nonfiction and I couldn’t separate them into separate bookcases like I had hoped. Also, fiction includes basically all of my chapter books and 2/3 of my picture books, so there’s that. It ended up being a mess with the nonfiction bookcase hardly being touched and the fiction overflowing with foolishness because there were so many books not making it back into place. I needed more categories so that students could find books they wanted to read quicker and not “shop” for 30 minutes.
(In my defense, this was before Pinterest was a thing and many teachers only had personal social media that they occasionally shared teaching ideas on vs. now with social media accounts devoted to teachers and their classrooms.)
I decided there were 3 things I really needed from my library:
1. A set up that allowed students to find books that interested them
2. An organizational system that made it easy for students to return book correctly
3. An organization system that cut down on “shopping” time so that students could spend more time actually reading
The key to having students fall in love with reading in the third grade lies in book series! If you can get a kid hooked on a series, they will consume and explore books on their own like you never imagined.
Then it hit me!
The way I needed to organize my library was by series!
I decided I would:
-group chapter books by series and place them in a basket so they were forward facing
-group chapter books that didn’t fit into a series, or that I didn’t have many of the series, by genre
-group any chapter book that doesn’t fit into series or genre, into an “explore” bin
-sort picture books simply by fiction or nonfiction but separate out “easy reader” type books
It’s not rocket science, but it works fabulous for my students. Every week I choose 2 “librarians”. Their job is to go through the baskets at the end of the day, return any out of place books, and make sure the rest are forward facing and neat. It takes them a couple minutes and they love the responsibility. It has also taught them exactly how they should be returning their books daily.
If you’ve had the same issues as me and want to give my system a go, you are more than welcome to my library labels for free. I sell them in my store for $3.00, but I so appreciate the teachers who take the time to read my blog posts and emails, that I wanted to offer them for free. I don’t know if you’ve read my bio, but gifts are my love language. Click on the link below, enter your email, and you will have instant access to the resource! Enjoy!
Thank you for taking the time to do this! It’s always nice when we teachers can share our wonderful ideas with others and vice versa. My poor class library is looking pretty sad for middle school standards…This will definitely help! Thank you again
Thank you for sharing. My school was recently gifted classroom libraries and I was looking for new ideas to get organized.
Thank you for the wonderful labels. I just have one question, what are flat readers?
I think they are typically called “Easy Readers” but I don’t like that connotation for my kiddos since I teach 3rd. 🙂
Thank you. I am always looking for new ideas fory classroom
Thank you so much for sharing! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been searching for!
Thank you for sharing your great ideas. Everything you have experienced with your classroom library is what I am going through right now. Looking for a better way.
On my goodness! I have just come back from working on sorting my classroom books into groups of Junie B. , etc wondering how will I ever keep these separated from the DRA 30s and others – what is going to work – and then I saw this ! I feel like I have just won the lottery! You have got it! I can’t wait to go print these out!!!!!
Are these shelves from ikea?
I’m not sure, they were in my classroom when I moved in.