The primary classroom library...don't you just love seeing how other teachers organize and display books for their students? It's so inspiring to see all the colorful totes and organized labels that make up these libraries.
This summer I did a major redo of my library. It was not because of it's aesthetics or it's lack of organization. It was because of it's function with my emerging readers.
Over the past few years my library has basically been grouped by topics or by author. I use The Daily 5 with by students. In The Daily 5, the authors really emphasize the importance of students picking "Good Fit Books." Books that students are interested in and (here's the important part) can read.
I have found that the can read part is super tricky for young learners. I have spent countless lessons and conferences talking about (and modeling) how to pick a Good Fit Book. Most of my students have no problem picking a book that they are interested in. However, picking a book that is on their reading level has been almost impossible for most of my students.
I really thought I was failing at teaching kids how to pick Good Fit Books, until I read The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers by Jennifer Serravallo. This book breaks reading strategies down by reading level. (It's fabulous!)
As I went through the text, I came upon the lesson about how to teach students to pick appropriate books. Serravallo recommends teaching level J (and above) students how to pick appropriate books based on interest and readability. A bell went off in my head. No wonder! No wonder I was not seeing students pick books they could read. Most of my students are reading on a level B or C when they come to me out of Kindergarten. Picking Good Fit Books will not be in (most of) their skill sets for a while.
With all of that being said, I knew leaving my library grouped by topic and author was not the set up that would work best for most of my students. I knew they needed the supported of a leveled library to help them pick books they can actually read.
Having decided to scaffold my library so that my students would pick their Good Fit books from a more limited range, I took every book off the shelf and started sorting.
To sort my books by level, I used a Reading Levels Guide (like the one pictured below) and ARBookFind.com. ARBookFind.com has thousands of titles that you can search. It will tell you the grade equivalency for many of your classroom books.
To label my books with a Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels, I had to cross reference the Reading Levels Guide.
As I went, I grouped the books by grade level. I wrote the grade levels on a piece of paper to go with each book stack. I also put a post-it on each book to with it's specific grade level.
After all the books were grouped. I put leveled stickers on the back. If there was already a sticker from my previous library system, I just put a new sticker on top on the old.
After I labeled all my class library books with the level stickers. I began putting together my library totes. I ordered them from Really Good Stuff for Teachers. I chose clear totes, just in case I decide to redecorate. I figure clear will go with anything.
I made library tote labels, laminated them, and them hot glued them to each tote.
Once all the labels were on the totes. I filled them with the books.
I'm happy with how my new library turned out. Yes, it was time consuming, but totally worth it. After some beginning of the year assessments, my students know exactly what totes to pick from and exactly where to return the books when they are finished.
On a related note, the boxes on top of the shelf are individual book boxes for each student. I ordered them from The Container Store. I hot glued each student's name on a box. (I also taped that same name label on the shelf. This year my little sweeties wouldn't stop rearranging the boxes so that their box was beside their friend's box. So the name place holder on the shelf solved that silly issue.)
Students shop for books from the class library once a week. They can also bring a book from home. Having individual book boxes is a great way to keep students from constantly browsing the class library instead of reading.
If you are interested in using the Reading Levels Guide or the leveled library labels, click on the picture below. They are both included in my Free Classroom Libray Labels packet.
How you organize your library is totally up to you. But it is a very important part of your classroom. Students should be able to understand how your library runs and take good care of it. It should not be a messy pile of books on a shelf or (worse yet) a set of neatly shelved books that students do not get to touch.
The library is the heart of the classroom. Your students will greatly benefit from a well organized and well stocked classroom library full of books that they can and want to read.
Thanks for stopping by.