I have some good news: I finally have my classroom library organized! Organization is tough for me, and I have to admit... this needed to be done all year!
Here are the before and after of how I organized my classroom library:
I decided to separate my books by topic and genre, not level, and here's why:
Bookstores and libraries aren't separated by level, and I want my library to be AUTHENTIC. Even more... I want my students to focus more on what they want to read, and less on limits for themselves. Yes, I will teach them about choosing books, and choose appropriate leveled books for them for our "book clubs" (my version of reading groups), but I don't want levels to keep them from reading something they want to read.
I tell my students all the time that sometimes I enjoy going back to read an old favorite. No, it's not on my reading level- but I enjoy it. It's important for kids to see that reading isn't just for 'learning'- because then some of them think reading is just for school.
I'm all about showing kids that reading is fun. Because I'm the kind of dork who stays up until 2 chatting to her far-away husband- and THEN stays up until 6 finishing The Help. (Yeah, that was last night. But it was really good!)
Also, it takes a super long time to level a bunch of books, but that's beside the point. I didn't feel it was right for me, anyway, especially since we are not an AR school.
Anyway, here's how I did it.
I would highly suggest that you put on music or TV to keep you company while you go through this process. For me, that meant Netflix playing Arrested Development on the SmartBoard. Ahhh.
I cleared away my special library seating.
I packed away book boxes so they were out of my way (and ready to be moved to my new room).
I had baskets from Dollar Tree (and Walmart) already, so I gathered only 2 things as supplies. Make sure you get the Super Sticky Post-Its if your baskets are anything like mine!
Start to separate books into piles based on like topics, series, or genres. Some of mine include "insects," "animal fantasy," "historical fiction," "Rainbow Magic Fairies," etc.
When they're somewhat decided and you know you have enough for them to be their own category, make a Post-It and put them into a basket. If I ended up combining two categories (or more), I just stuck all of the Post-Its on the front.
Warning- your room may look crazy while this is happening.
But I promise- it will get better!
To the left, a rolling bookshelf (with our writing supplies on the other side.)
To the right, dollar store baskets looking pretty under the umbrella.
I put a few of the books that I use primarily for teaching or specific holidays or skills into a milk crate, using Post-Its like tabs. This especially helped when I had only one Mother's Day book- not enough for a basket, but still something I want to be able to find easily come May.
I also have a stack of books that didn't fit in my categories- the ones I didn't know what to do with, or might get rid of- so, for the time being, they just went here in this crate.
Now- how to keep the organization going. Stickers are tricky- I'm not sure I'll want these categories forever, but I do love the way they keep students accountable!
I have thought of two solutions- one would be a "return" basket that my classroom librarian uses to return books to the appropriate categories. Another would be using clothespins with my students' numbers on them to clip to the baskets, so students can easily find where the books go back. The tricky thing about that is that my students are allowed to have multiple books at a time in their book box, so I would need multiple clips for each student and that might get confusing.
Do you have any suggestions? What works best in your room to KEEP your classroom library organized? Thanks for your advice!