How to Organize a Classroom Library

The best way that I have found to organize a classroom library is to sort books by genres. This would work best in classrooms that are 3rd grade and above. Organizing by genres helps students understand what types of books they are reading and helps prepare them for state testing, as they are often asked the genre of passages they read. Many students also tend to be attracted to certain genres of books over others. Having them organized in this way allows them to find books they will enjoy much more easily than if they were organized by author, level, or some other way.

Some examples of possible genres are:
1) Realistic fiction
2) Historical fiction
3) Fantasy
4) Adventure
5) Folktales
6) Mystery
7) Newberry Winners
8) Science
9) History
10) Biography
11) Poetry
12) Quick Reads

Depending on how many books you have in a certain category, they could be broken down further. The science category could be broken down into Plants and Animals, the Solar System, etc. Also, if you have a variety of books written by the same author, you could make those books a category of their own. There are also many series of books that could be separated out as their own category. A category of “quick reads” could be shorter books that are below grade level that students would be able to read through quickly.

The easiest way to sort these books is using baskets. You could create title cards to label each of the baskets with their genre. This makes finding books easy and enjoyable for kids because they know exactly where to go to find the type of book they like.

Students often make the mistake of taking a book and then forgetting which basket they took it from. To solve this problem, you could choose a certain type of sticker to put on the front of all the books within a certain genre. Each genre will then have its own color or design. Making a chart with the different stickers and their matching genres can be especially helpful to students when they are returning books. This serves as a key for them to look at when they are not sure where a book goes.

There are a couple of ways that kids could check out books from the classroom library that makes keeping track of books easy. With each of these options, it is easiest if each student has a number, and you have a small file box in your classroom with file cards that have numbers on them. One possible way for students to check out books is to glue a library pocket into the front of each book with a checkout card inside. Once the kids have chosen a book, they write their names on the checkout card and put it behind their number in the file box. When they go to return a book, they put the card back in the book, check the key to see what basket the book goes in, and return it to the correct basket. Another idea is to have each student have a 3 x 5 card with his or her name on it. When the students choose a book, they write the title of the book down on their card and put the card behind their number. When they are done with the book, they pull the card out, put a checkmark next to the title and return the book to its basket.

Organizing your library this way is great for both students and teachers. It will get kids excited about choosing books and finding books they love, and it will be very low maintenance for the teacher.