A must in every elementary classroom is a library! I have spent years building mine and I continue to scour garage sales, retired teacher sales, donation piles and of course purchasing books for my library. The one thing I dread about my library is the organization of it. I have tried genre, reading level and author. I just can’t seem to win. I believe I have done an awesome job of explaining it to my first grade students; I show them, I model how to put books back, I have even used bookmarks like in the school’s library to mark where they took their book from. All for nothing. The first couple weeks are great and it’s a downhill slide from there. I currently have books on my shelf in no particular order and it is driving me crazy! So, I searched and came up with some ways that teachers can organize their classroom library and keep it organized. I am determined to find one that works for me as well!
One idea that I really like was placing the books in baskets. On the front of the basket is a tag, ex. Animals and it is marked with a picture. Then, each of the books in that basket have a label on the cover that says “animals” and they have the corresponding picture. This makes it so quick and easy for the books to be identified as to where they belong with no confusion on which basket they came from! Even the kids could organize them if given the task! I love it!
An idea very similar to the one above, is to again use baskets and place a number on the outside. Then all of the books in that basket would be marked with the number 5. This would allow for organizing by level, genre, author, A.R. level. Again, this is easy for children to find the box that corresponds to the number on the book.
Another idea that really struck me was using cloth bins to place books into. The child would have a clip with their name on it. Every time they took a book from the bin, they would clip their name to the cloth handle so they could remember where to put their book back. This is a fun and unique way to organize the books and help kids keep them that way! You could take photos of each of the kids, laminate them and use those for their book clips. It would be easy to come up with other variations of this idea.
A couple other ideas that caught my attention was a bin with the teacher’s name on it filled with their favorite books. Another was a “Book Hospital”. I can’t even begin to count how many times my reading group has been interrupted over a damaged book that a child found (even though they know better than to interrupt reading groups for that)! Now they can place them in the hospital bin and you can get to those books when you have time. Overtime, these books will be well "loved" and no longer available. Eventually, my classroom will be all digital. Until then, I hope my students enjoy reading regardless of the format.
I’m excited to get my library organized and would love to hear any suggestions that you have! Happy reading!