Saturday, July 2, 2016

5 Steps for Organizing Your Classroom Library

      Do you need to organize your classroom library? It is such a daunting task...I've been putting it off for years! HA Well, this was one of my summer projects and I'm so glad it's done! I can't wait to show my new first graders this August their new classroom library!
     It all started off when a colleague of mine sent me an email about a grant through our public library. Friends of the Phoenix Public Library has a program called Project Bookstorm that gives grants for books to teachers, school librarians, and other educators. If you live in AZ, please check it out! The application for the grant was so easy and later that week I received an email confirming that I was awarded one thousand books for my classroom! Now, these books aren't all brand new...only about a handful were new but they were in great shape! I set up an appointment and went "shopping" in a warehouse with a TON of books. These books were either donated or the "discard" books from other libraries. These books have been LOVED but still have a lot of life left! I was at the warehouse for over 3.5 hours and only grabbed 572 books. I would've stayed longer but I had to go to a dentist appointment (blah).

     So, getting almost 600 new-to-me books forced me to reorganize my classroom library! I had an idea of what I wanted to do (label each book with a matching label tub) but I just needed the motivation to get it all done!

     Now, I'm going to be real with you...It took me a LONG time and lots of help from my two cousins, sister, and mom. The process of organizing your classroom library is tedious, dusty, and time consuming but once it's done, you won't have to do it for a while (until you get another 600 more books haha).

    Here we go...
     If your books are anything like mine, they are DUSTY! I used disinfecting wipes and wiped down all of the books. The wipes also rubbed off old labels from my last library organizing adventure...which was a BIG plus. While you're at it, clean the tubs too! I found so many dust bunnies!
     Once your books are clean, start sorting them! This was the toughest thing to do...especially with all of the new books I had. I started off with some general topics since I was sorting my classroom library by themes. I started off with the topics that I knew I had the most books in: farm, animals, Colonial America, America, habitats, alphabet, etc. I also separated out the books by the same author or the same characters: Kevin Henkes, Mercer Mayer, Amelia Bedelia, Little Critter Stories, Dr. Seuss, Olivia, Arthur, SkippyJon Jones, etc. Once you start sorting, you'll see if you need to sort them into even more specific topics! When I sorted them into the different topics, I started off by using sticky notes so I could tell what pile was what. 
     When you have your books sorted, you can start labeling your book tubs. I have a mixture of book tubs from Really Good Stuff and the Dollar Tree. The tubs from Really Good Stuff are nice and sturdy and also very expensive! I got them 4-5 years ago and they are still holding up pretty well. I grabbed the Dollar Tree tubs this year after realizing that I needed about 20 more tubs (remember the almost 600 books?) They are WAY thinner and not as sturdy but for a dollar, I thought, "why not?" I'm going to try them and see how long they last!

     I made labels that fit in the Really Good Stuff tubs. I added pictures that matched the topic to help my early readers identify the books in the tubs.
     I used this AMAZING paper cutter from Target. I can't believe that I've been teaching for 6 years and I've cut out everything by hand! This thing makes it soooo easy!
     And just like that... 
     This is the funnest part, labeling your books! This made my teacher heart oh so happy! I labeled each of the books with 2 labels. One label has my name and I put it on the inside cover of the book.                                                                                             
     Then, I labeled each single book with a label that matches their book tub! These are the labels:
     Here you can see my lovely cousins cutting out the labels and organizing them! {Don't tell them I took this haha}
     Having the matching labels is going to make the classroom library SO organized! All of the students are going to know where each book knows just by looking at the cover and matching it to the tub. 

     Now, how you store your books might be all depends on what you have available in your classroom. I have 3 bookshelf cubby things that I put my tubs in. It keeps all tubs available and in an easy to reach spot for them to grab books. Here is a little picture:
     If you have metal bookshelves or even plastic crates, you can use those to store your books! My first couple of years, I didn't even have bookshelves! I just put the tubs along the wall near the classroom rug! 

     If you'd like to check out the labels that I used for my classroom the picture below! I included an EDITABLE version, the book tub labels, and the matching labels for your books...Everything that you need for organizing your classroom library. 

     How do you organize your classroom library!? Share below in the comments!


  1. I will be purchasing these labels.
    Btw, I love your blog! :)

  2. Sandra, 4 words....You are a Genius ��
    Now on to bribe some family & friends to help make this organized library a Reality‼️��
    ~Chris =^..^=