Setting up a classroom library is not an easy task, but it is a rewarding one if done with purpose. Student-accessible classroom libraries are an important part of any K through 12 classrooms. Since I started teaching my classroom library has evolved from complete chaos to student/teacher-friendly organization.
Many believe that it is sufficient to have a few books on a shelf or to just use the school library. This is not the ideal situation. Students in all grades need to have interesting texts available to them at all times. If students do not have access to interesting texts that are organized in a visually appealing manner, they have no incentive to practice their reading skills.
I was inspired by this blog post I found one day while searching the internet many years ago. FINALLY, I found a great example to model my own classroom library after. I hope that this blog post can inspire others to renovate their own classroom library.
I keep all fiction books in red Ikea bins and all my non-fiction books are kept in blue Ikea bins. This helps reinforce the differences between these two text types. Books that are too big or heavy to fit into bins get stored upright spine label out in metal dividers.
What do I put into a Grade 7 and 8 class library?
- Fiction books at various below grade, on grade and above grade reading levels
- Non-fiction books that relate to the curriculum
- High-interest non-fiction books (spies, people, facts)
- Graphic novels
- Magazines and Newspapers
- Luxury car brochures (Lexus, BMX, Audi, Jaguar) I acquired these brochures one Saturday afternoon by driving to the car dealerships and “shopping” for a new car!
- Weekly Flyers or Advertising Magazines – last year I was shopping for a cellphone and brought the Best Buy comparison magazine into my classroom. It was the most popular text for months.
- Survey the students and ask them what they want to read (repair manuals, newspapers, computer code, maps)
How do I acquire all of these different resources?
- Before you buy anything new inventory your current library collection to see what the students are reading and recycle any books that smell, are yellowing or are in disrepair.
- Ask your school librarian and principal/administrator if they can help support your goal of a dynamic classroom library by purchasing new materials for your classroom. Some schools use credits from their Scholastic Book Fairs to help teachers create a class library.
- Ask your friends and family members if they have any books their kids do not read anymore.
- Order the $1.99 and $2.99 specials from Scholastic every month.
- Check your local library’s discard shelf – most books are under a dollar.
- Check your local dollar store, thrift or used book stores.
- Visit your local bookstore and browse the children and teen fiction discount shelves. I have purchased many books from Chapters and Indigo for under $5 a book.
- Ask if your school hosted a book fair – many book fair companies have teacher-only discount sales. I purchased the bulk of my library through the semi-annual Scholastic Teacher Warehouse Sale.
Once your library is complete make sure you use engaging reading assignments to keep your students using the library frequently.
Engaging Reading Resources
More Classroom Library Information
- 5 Classroom Library Myths
- Finding Affordable Books For Your Classroom Library
- Classroom Library Makeover
- Why Classroom Libraries Are Important