Thursday, August 4, 2011

Organizing Your Classroom Books

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." -Cicero

The books in your classroom really are the SOUL of the room.  By making your classroom library feel comfortable and inviting, this will show your students that reading can be fun, relaxing, and even adventurous at times.  But, in order for this to happen, your books need to be organized in a way that truly invites your students in.  When I first started teaching, I began with a HUGE selection of books that I did not know what to do with.  Over the years I have organized my books into 3 parts and this is what I hope to help some of you with if you are struggling.  

First: Picture Books 
I like to rotate my picture books every month to correlate with seasons, curriculum, holidays, etc. So, I have these all organized by "category" which is then alphabetized.  My categories vary from topic (ex. feelings) to author (Eric Carle) to many other random topics.  I try not to be too constructed so that there is some flexibility as new books come in.  I am constantly creating new categories so that every book has a home.  Even so, there are still books that do not "fit in" so for those I just alphabetize by title.  Boring, I know, but it keeps my organized brain sane :) My goal this year is to keep track of the books I have already put out because last year I realized my memory isn't so great with this task.  I am thinking I will put sticky notes on that folder if it has already been put out that school year.  We will see how that goes.  Eventually I would like to compile a monthly list of what books go out, but right now I just kinda go by how I feel!  Here are some pictures of my Picture Book library that is for me only.  As I pull books out for students, those will go on bookshelf in our Reading Corner.  Again, nothing fancy, but it is easy to keep up with and that is the important part right!?

Second: Leveled Library
I track my students' reading level at least 4 times a year if not more, so it is beneficial for me to let them know exactly what a "Just Right" book should feel like.  As part of their book choices each week, they are able to choose books from the Leveled Book Bins that meet their level.  This is somewhat "secret" information that I pass along to them on a sticky note which they can "hide" in their book bin if they choose to.  

To level students I use the resource: Qualitative Reading Inventory 4 By Joanne Caldwell
To level books I use:
My reading groups are based upon these levels and are very flexible as the year goes on of course.  Here is a picture of my Leveled Book Bins:
Another really helpful resource with converting book levels (since there are about 6 out there that I know of...) is:

Third: Book Bins by Category 
My last way of organizing my books is by category.  This includes animals, Junie B, Magic Tree House, Jeff Brown, etc.  These do not have levels and gives students a chance to find those "just right" books that we do practice.  Here is what these look like:
 I teach my students how to keep these organized and neat throughout the year so they actually do a great job taking care of our Classroom Library.  I just read somewhere that a teacher assigns students to each bin, and it is that students' job to make sure that bin stays organized.  I love that idea and thanks to whoever shared that!  I may just try that out...

So, this is how I organize my books and I hope that I have helped someone along the way!  I am always looking for better ways to organize things so please share if you have a better solution!  Good Luck organizing :) 

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