Igniting Critical and Creative Thinking

Building a Classroom Library that Excites and Inspires

A classroom library should be one of the most utilized spaces in your classroom, but stocking and organizing your library can be a challenge. Let’s talk about how to build that library, and at the end of the day, how to keep it organized.

Building your classroom library

I can’t walk into a bookstore, Target, or any other store with a Book Section without buying a new picture book for my Classroom Library. I’m a die-hard picture book collector and love sharing those books with students. However, I didn’t start with the extensive collection I have today! Here are some tips for growing your book collection.

  • Instead of those Starbucks gift cards and Christmas ornaments, encourage your parents to give a book in honor of their Little reader to stay in your classroom library.
  • Make visits to used book stores, yard sales, and thrift stores in your area. Parents are always donating their children’s books as they get older.
  • Check out your local library. They usually have 1-2 sales per year where your can purchase books they are discarding at a fantastic price.
  • Put it out on social media that you’re looking to stock your classroom library. People love supporting literacy for our readers.

How do I set up my library space?

We want a library setup that excites our little readers to reach that next level and inspires them to do big and brave things like what they read about within those pages.

Your classroom library needs to be a dedicated area

Make sure you have some good shelving. I use the 2×2 or 3×3 shelving units that you can purchase affordably from most big box stores! Add a rug and some comfortable seating or pillows, maybe even a stuffed animal or two, and your readers will be enjoying their new library this next school year.

You need some sort of display

Short on space? Boy, can I relate. I never had a big enough room to create the library space I dreamed of. I had to use countertops to display my book bins. If you have that same problem, rotate your books in the bins throughout the year. Only keep seasonal and holiday titles displayed that are relevant to the current season, and store the others.

One of the first things you need to decide if how to display your books. Do you want to use baskets or book bins?

For younger kids, I prefer baskets because the kids can see the cover of the book. Many times a cover will get one of your kiddos interested in reading the book.

For students in grades 3 and up, I prefer to use book bins because they don’t take up as much space.

Whether you decide on baskets or book bins, you can get them pretty much anywhere – Target, Walmart, Amazon, Dollar Stores., etc. My favorite bins are the Pen+Gear bins from Walmart. You can get a 6-pack for just under $12!

How should I organize my books?

You have to decide for yourself how you want to organize your classroom library. Is it by reading level, topic, season, genre? Personally, I am not a great fan of organizing by reading levels. I don’t like to limit my kids to only selecting books on a specific level, and I don’t like all the kids being able to look at their classmates’ books and know what reading level they are on.

Next, you want to make sure that the organization system is something that your little readers can keep organized! We’ve all been there when so much hard work has gone into organizing our classroom library, only to have kids put everything back in the wrong place.

Use book bin labels with matching individual book labels

One of the easiest ways to solve this problem is to have labels on the baskets with pictures and matching individual book labels. All your kids have to do is to match the pictures to know where to return them.

My daughter is an organization fanatic. If you’re like her and not me, you can always have a large basket labeled Returned Books and file them yourself at the end of the day. Me? I’m so tired at the end of the day that the last thing I want to do is put away books. Consequently, I’d probably let them sit there for days and end up with more books in return baskets than on the shelves!

These are great additions to my library. The labels easily help kids find books and help them know where to put them away too! Thank you for this great resource!

Chelle S.

All of the pictures in this post use labels from my TpT store. These book bin labels have child-friendly images to help your readers know what books are in each bin. They print easily and you can have your classroom library organized in no time! There are even individual book labels with titles and graphics to match the book bin labels so your kids will return them to the correct book bin.

A Final Note About Your Classroom Library

We’ve all seen the pictures of stunning classroom libraries on social media. If you think of all the elementary teachers out there, only a few have space, resources, and books to create an Instagram-worthy classroom library. Give yourself some grace; classroom libraries are built over time.

My Gift To You

Check out this Reading Quotes bookmark freebie that is available in The Teacher’s Toolkit, my FREE Classroom Library. If you’re interested in some book bin labels that go with your current decor then be sure to check out all the book bin labels in my store.

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hey y'all

I'm Susan!

I’m Susan Morrow and I help overwhelmed teachers create thinking classrooms where students discover the joy in learning and achieving.

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