For this series of posts on classroom libraries, I have already shared some great things that teachers are doing with classroom libraries in a variety of schools. In this final post, I will explain how I have organized my own library, something that I have wrestled with at the start of every year because I want my students to be able to get the most out of our classroom books.
Even though I have read about many teachers (and even shown some here) who organize their libraries by genre, the main section of my fiction library is in alphabetical order by author’s last name. This allows me to have a better idea of where books are that I am looking for and it also helps students get to know authors they like because all of these books are right next to each other so they can easily move from one book to the next, even when these are not necessarily the same genre. Within this structure, I do keep tabs on the genres of my novels by adding colored labels to the spines; these colors correspond to a key that is located over the check out list, so when a student is looking for a fantasy book, all he or she has to do is find a novel with a red sticker. By labeling this way, I can also put half-color labels for books that fit into multiple genres (like blue and yellow for a mystery set in the past) without having to remember which genre bin I put something in.
I still make plenty of use of bins, however. Poetry, picture books, and graphic novels all have their own bins throughout the room. Some authors who have many different books receive bins, too. Authors like Gary Paulsen, Gordon Korman, and Rick Riordan even have two bins apiece!
My nonfiction is organized into book bins as well. I love that my students can see the covers of these books and be enticed into reading some nonfiction that they might have otherwise ignored. It has been my goal in the past year to increase this section of my library because it truly is lacking compared to the vast quantities of fiction available. Not only have I been on the look out for these books, but have also talked-up more of these books on a frequent basis.
After building five additional shelving units this summer, I finally have extra shelf space which has been awesome. I have used these shelves to display Rebecca Caudill nominees, mock Newbery books, and seasonal books (like the spooky ones in October). Then I turned to my classroom librarians because one of the shelves was pretty boring and they came up with having a Classroom Favorites section where students could put books that they really enjoyed.
This year I changed the way that I check books out to students because we were losing track of too many books that other students wanted to read but couldn’t because the texts had mysteriously disappeared. Now each student in my room (and some students from other rooms) has his or her own 4 x 6 notecard that has been hole-punched and put on a ring on top of one of the shelves. This has helped with tracking down “lost” books and also allows other readers to easily see what their peers have been enjoying.
I hope this series of posts has given at least one teacher a push into establishing a classroom library or adding to the one in current existence. Want more information about classroom libraries? Give this site this a try! Happy reading!