August 15, 2011

HOW-TO: Setup a Classroom Library

This is my guide on how to setup a classroom library, but it is by no means the only way.

Fiction is all on the blue bookcase, while non-fiction is on the built-in bookcase and ledge.
Collecting Books

I was fortunate to have some books left behind by a retiring teacher, but not quite enough.  I wanted some newer titles with glossy covers to attract students' eyes.  In addition, I wanted some graphic novels to motivate some of my lower readers (though, who doesn't love a graphic novel?)

Here's where the books came from:
  • Visited Value Village and the Salvation Army for some great deals on lightly used books.
  • An educational assistant (C.W.) from my previous school knew I wanted some comics and graciously donated a giant pile.
  • A colleague (J.B.) lent me some great junior level books that she's not currently using.
  • Included some books I had purchased for my intermediate classroom last year.
and where I will find more...
  • I will be collecting magazines throughout the year to build up my collection.
  • I am going to ask parents if they have any gently used books that are collecting dust.
Library Organization

There's no easy way to do this, it's going to take time and effort.  To start, I organized all my books into the following categories: (downloadable labels at end of post)

Historical Fiction
Adventures at School
Graphic Novels
Canadian Authors
Ancient Civilizations
Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils
Science and Technology
Puzzles, Jokes, and Trivia
General Interest

In addition to these categories, I also created piles for authors and series that I had a lot of.

I did not organize my library by reading level.  Instead, I am going to teach my class how to pick an appropriate book using the five finger rule.

Next, I headed down to the local dollar store where I stocked up on plastic bins for about a $1 each.  I also picked up a package of 75 2" x 3" white labels.  I printed all the categories listed above onto the labels and stuck them onto each bin.

Final Touches

I dedicated half of my classroom library to fiction and the other half to non-fiction books.  I tried to colour code as much as possible.

I found a cut-off of carpet at a local carpet store for $25 and a free couch at my grandmother's house.

Put it all together and voila! - a classroom library and reading nook!

Next Steps
  • Find some pillows to make the nook more comfortable.  (thanks J.B.)
  • Level each book with a sticker on the inside of the cover.  (thanks to volunteers)
Downloadable Labels

You can download the labels I created in a PDF.  These can be printed onto Avery 4"x2" label sheets that have 10 labels.  Download here.


  1. I've got the pillows! Remember the big brown ones with tufted buttons that I had in my classroom library last year? No room for them in my current placement....I know Kathleen was eyeballing them, but I'll give you first dibs if you want them. :) JRB fr Lundy's

  2. You are a parents dream! I manage the magazine donations at work and we are often overwhelmed with some types (although typically Maclean's, Time, Reader's Digest)so let me know if copies of these would help.
    Congrats on accomplishing this!
    BTW - the 5 finger rule is going to be sooo useful and easy! I have an avid reader in the house and this will help me gauge her level.TNX - Jenn M