Classroom Library Organization - Polka Dots Please

Classroom Library Organization

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How can I get started?

If you’re a teacher and you have books, you’re probably ready for some classroom library organization! The good news is that organizing your classroom library makes teaching easier and makes your books more accessible! Before you can organize, you have to decide the purpose of your library. This will depend on your curriculum, your classroom,  and how you want children to use the library. My library has changed a lot over the past decade. Here are some questions to consider:

  • How can my library match my curriculum?
  • How do I want students to use my library?
  • How do I want to use my library?

My library actually has two parts and is organized across many different shelves. One part of my library has bins with specific topics, genres, authors, and characters. Another part of my library is organized by the level of the books. This system works best for the Reading Workshop curriculum I teach. My students use the leveled library and some author and character bins for “book shopping” during reading workshop. We use the other bins for read alouds, shared reading, and other activities.

You can learn more about Reading Workshop here

How can I organize my books?

If you want to keep your library organized, all of those books are going to need a home! I found that using 3 different sized bins worked best for me. I started by making stacks of my books to figure out how many bins or baskets. Some stacks, like biographies, were tall so I needed a big bin for that category. I had enough Pigeon books stacked up to make a “Pigeon” bin, but I needed to combine Pete the Cat and Splat the Cat to make a “Cats” bin. Finally, I made a list of labels to print for the bins. 

I have been buying and saving bins for years, but you can see some of my favorites here

How can I keep things neat?

Classroom library organization takes time so you want the results to last! The best way to keep things neat to is ensure that everyone who uses the library knows where books belong. This includes kids and other adults who may borrow books from you. 

Every bin in my library has a clear label with a matching picture. This is important for kids who are still learning how to read! Putting matching stickers on the front or back of your books is also VERY helpful! It’s the easiest way to everyone to know how to return books. 

At the beginning of the year, I spend a lot of time modeling and teaching how to get and return books. That’s going to look different for teachers based on how when when kids are getting books. Kids love to help so having a couple classroom “librarians” to keep things neat helps too. In our classroom, we also have a system for lost or damaged books. You can read about it here

Are you ready to get your library organized once and for all? Your students will love reading in the special space you create for them! If you have more questions or great ideas you have tried, I’d love to hear from you!

If you would like to use these library labels and stickers in your classroom, I have them ready for you here

Emily Yerty

Emily Yerty

I’m a first grade teacher who believes in creating a classroom kids love and activities that keep them engaged all day!

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2 thoughts on “Classroom Library Organization”

    • Hi Rose,
      I use the app Scholastic Book Wizard to help me find the reading level. I am fortunate that my district purchased each classroom a set of leveled books so I knew the level of those ones right away.

      Thanks so much for your great question!


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