First off, let me give you a quick snapshot of my personal experience. Last year, I started at a new school midyear. It was quite the challenge to start midyear and walk into another teacher's small classroom to co-teach. By the end of the year, I was grateful for the new friendships I had developed and the classroom library I had inherited from a retiring teacher who had taught at this school for THIRTY SEVEN YEARS! (AH-mazing!) As stacks, and stacks, and stacks of books and bins were brought into my classroom. My mind was boggled. I mean, I had inherited hundreds of books, some new, some over thirty years old. So my dear husband and I went to school one day this summer and brought ALL the books home.
As I saw all these books, I thought, "Now what?" Well, I sorted them into three piles: recycle, give away, and keep. Some of the books were torn, or yellowed and brittled, so I placed them in my large recycling bin. Some books were primary books, or repeated books. I kept many, but I did make a stack to donate to other teachers who might get more use of them. I love a large collection of library books, but I didn't want to have books sitting in my library that I knew would never be seen by my fifth graders.
Next, I decided that I would label my books. You see, my school participates in the Accelerated Reader program. The students absolutely LOVE it and are so encouraged to read more because of it. Students love to see their points and percentages increase throughout the quarter which we track in class. (You can see the resource I use to track their progress by clicking here.) Not all of the books that I own are AR books, but most did fall into this category. Therefore, I looked up each book on www.arbookfinder.com to get the books levels, genre, quiz number, and AR points value. I took the time to type up labels to place on the inside cover of each book. Now, I know this step was a bit over the top, as some teachers just write the AR points on the inside cover, but I know this will help my reading program run more smoothly. Due to my past experiences where sometimes students would misspell the title and have problems finding the test, I decided to add all the information necessary onto the label so students could independently and successfully find their reading level books if needed, and find the test without my support.
Once the labels were printed, I placed them in the inside cover, and added a colored dot to the spine of the book. My school's library uses this system so I thought it would be the easiest method to use in my class since it would be familiar to the students. Each color represents a reading level. Now, in my class students do not have to stay within their color, but many times they are more comfortable finding a book they know will be in their reading level, or close to it, by looking for the colored dot rather than having to start from scratch. My school uses the following color coding system, so I decided to make a chart to place in my classroom. (This year our school theme is superheroes, therefore I added a superhero to our class chart.)
Next, I sorted the books. Some were sorted by authors (ex. Roald Dahl), some by series (ex. Diary of a Wimpy Kid), others by reading levels (ex. 4.0-4.5), and some by genre or topics (ex. legends).
I then placed them in bins I found at the Dollar Store. They are colorful and were the perfect size. Hey, for $1 a bin, I was able to spend about $40 to get ALL my books organized and easy to find. Not bad if you ask me. ;)
The next step was to label the bins. This part I thought long and hard about, while watching many classroom library videos, reading many blog posts, and pinning many Pinterest pins. I knew I wanted the labels to have the category title on it, but I wanted a system that would keep the classroom library organized. Then I saw a couple of teachers who used numbers on their books and bins to keep them organized. The books had a number label on them that matched the number on the bin so students would place the books back into the bin with the corresponding number. GENIUS!!! So I decided to do the same, but I took it one step further. I wanted to divide the books in my classroom library by 'fiction' and 'nonfiction.' I separated the 'fiction' books into green bins, and the 'nonfiction' books into blue bins. On my bin labels I added a number with an F above it for fiction, and an NF above it for nonfiction.
I placed the corresponding number label on the top left corner of the back cover, and placed the books back into their bin.
As you can imagine, this was time consuming since I had to do ALL the books. However, we will now have an organized library with a place for everything and an easy way to put everything back in its place.
From this day forward it will only take a couple of minutes to add books into my classroom library keeping it organized and most importantly, FUNCTIONAL.
You can find editable classroom library labels in various colors to match you class by clicking here.
I hope this gave you some new ideas that you can implement in your classroom.