Classroom Library Organization

Well, it’s back to school time for me, and a big part of my classroom preparations involved “tidying up” my classroom library.  I always have lots of good questions about how I organize my somewhat ridiculous collection of books. I thought I’d share a little bit about how I get my library ready so that my students can really dig into their reading from that first week of school!

Classroom library organization tips

Getting your classroom library ready!

If you are a teacher, you can help to make your classroom library more effective by:

  • Keeping it well-stocked. Make sure that your classroom library has a variety of books that interest your students.
  • Organizing the books in a way that is easy to browse. This will help students to find the books that they are looking for.
  • Providing opportunities for students to discuss books. This can be done through book clubs, reading conferences, or simply having students talk about books with their peers.
  • Making the classroom library a welcoming space. This means creating a space where students feel comfortable reading and talking about books.

A tour of my classroom library!

Here is my monster shelf of books…this is where a huge chunk of my collection lives…this and the “yellow spinny thing” that I inherited about 20 years ago from a retiring teacher.
reader's workshop

These two sections of my collection are organized in bins and are grouped by author or series.  For series where I have only a few, I put several similar series in one bin. For example, I have one bin that has both Judy Moody AND Amber Brown books as they have a similar audience appeal.

classroom library

Each bin has a label with a number…and that number gets written on each book in the bin.  This makes it SUPER easy for students to return books to the right place. If I ever have to rearrange bins, the number comes off the book with hand sanitizer!

reading book organizationbook organization for classroom library

When a book needs a different home…

Here you’ll see another collection of books (do NOT judge the mess…I hadn’t “tidied” this shelf yet!) where I have larger books and different genres. There is a biography bin, animal books, Magic School Bus books, fairy tales, poetry, and so on.  I also have two “just for fun” bins which are great when students need a quick read or if we go read with a buddy class.

Any books that don’t have a specific bin or don’t fit in with a collection get put on the regular shelves. This is a great place for students who are struggling to find a book to just “browse” to see if something captures their attention.

classroom library
On top of these brown shelves, I have a set of 10 mini easels.  I start the year by placing a book in each one, and if a student takes one of those 10 books to read, their job is to replace it with another book from my classroom library.  This is a well-loved task AND helps get books facing forward so students can see covers, not just spines. (If you want to check these out, here’s an Amazon link to the ones I use.  This is an affiliate link.)book easels I use for classroom library display

I also like to keep things as streamlined and simple as possible. If for any reason a student can’t find where a book goes, they can put it in the “Please find my home” bin. That becomes a job for my library team. There is also a “repairs needed” tub where parent helpers fix damaged books every few weeks.

book bins for classroom library

Multiple Copies

In another part of the room I store my multiple copies.  These books are not free for students to use, but I use them for book clubs or if a student REALLY wants a book.  I keep them protected by bobbleheads and other important items!

literature circles

Organizing my classroom library is super important because I really and truly want my students to use it.  I do not have them check books out–it’s all honor system.  I want them reading during reading time, not having to do a complicated system that then needs to be maintained.  No books are organized by level because I want students to learn how to select a “just right “book.  In fact, the entire first few weeks of my literacy instruction focuses on “reading behaviors” such as choosing the right book, reading with stamina, selecting from different genres, how to stay focused, and so on.

We make lots of anchor charts and do lots of practicing.We take interest surveys and make “books I want to read” lists.  I do tons of book talks to try to get them super excited to dig into my book collection! We start exploring books the very first day of school. Many of the lessons and resources I use are in my “Getting Ready for a Year of Reading” resource.  You can click the image below if you are interested in seeing more.

reader's workshop worksheets
Want a FREE SET of posters to help you get independent reading going in your class? 
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I hope you have a wonderful year of reading with your students. Let’s keep working to get great books into our students’ hands!

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