The Classroom Library is the first literacy station teachers should launch. Whether you are building the library yourself or you are having your students help in the process, it should be arranged in a way that aids students in efficiently finding books of interest.

Here are three steps for accomplishing this goal:

1. Gather all the texts you have for students to read independently, including picture books, informational books, chapter books, magazines, graphic novels, etc. Students need access to a wide range of text types and complexities. (TIP: If you have a large quantity of books, you may want to withhold some titles and change out titles, adding categories for new seasons, topics, or authors as they are more timely and relevant.)

2. Organize books in baskets based on various categories–by genre, author, topic, and occasionally by levels. (TIP: Don’t overload the baskets. Leave some space so students can easily flip through the books to see the covers when making their selections.)

3. Label each basket with words and visual icons so students can locate books quickly and independently. (TIP: Check out the ready-made labels by Beth Newingham.)

Great Teacher Comments

Mary Hall, fourth grade teacher at Sweetser Elementary, made time for her students to root through the book tubs and reorganize them. She called it the “Extreme Library Makeover.”

Each student chose a tub. He looked through it to verify each book belonged in that tub–that it had a common component with the other books (same genre, same theme, same author, etc.). If he found one that did not fit, the student moved throughout the classroom of tub-sorters and found a collection it was better suited for.

Mary noticed three key benefits from her Extreme Makeover idea:

  1. It was a great review of genres.
  2. It gave students some ownership in the literacy environment.
  3. t provided an opportunity for students to discover some books they didn’t know were in the classroom library.

Mary said that her students even asked if they could check them out right then.

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