There are few things that I love more about decorating my classroom than putting together my classroom library. This year I finally got my act together and really organized my library in a way that makes sense and includes engagement from my students.
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Before I started or did anything, I really spent some time thinking about the purpose that I wanted our classroom library bulletin board to serve. Did I want a fun saying? Did I want something more interactive? Did I want something that maybe had nothing to do with reading? And after quite a bit of thought, I decided I would have my large back bulletin board be dedicated to providing students with book recommendations for their peers. Since school hasn’t started yet, I had my 8th graders from last year leave their book recommendations for the incoming 8th graders. I thought this would be a great way to engage our new set of students since they looked up to our graduates so much!
I also wanted to emphasize the idea that my students need to READ. Period. So in addition to my “READ” letters that I bought from Target (here are similar ones from Amazon), I added a banner with the word “READ” as well. Hopefully my students get the hint 🙂
Additionally, there are quite a few books that I would love for my students to read, but because of the population I work with, I want to make sure I get parental permission first. So, I dedicated a section of my library to these books (I have more to add than this picture below shows). I created a letter to parents to let them know how the process works for their students to check out any of these books. You can grab that letter here. And if you haven’t utilized www.commonsensemedia.org, I highly suggest you do so.
This year, I decided to organize my library by alphabetical order using my good friend from Lessons with Laughter, Molly’s Library Labeling Kit. I spent a lot of time deciding how I wanted to organize my library, and I finally came to the conclusion that alphabetical order would be the best way for one very specific reason. And that reason is Google Sheets, which is how I keep track of my books.
I initially was planning to organize my library by genre, but because of Google Sheets (where I can easily label the genre and students can sort by genre), I decided against this – although I had created genre labels already!
After many years of trying to keep track of my class library books, Google Sheets has proven to be the easiest and most effective way (although I do still require students to physically sign books out, this is a second layer that makes it more difficult for books to become lost into the void). Here’s how I set everything up:
First, I create a Google Sheet where I have the four following columns (side note that I do need to break this down by author’s last name, not their first name like I currently have!):
– Title of Novel
– Checked-Out By
Here’s what it looks like:
Right now, I have over 130 titles in my library, which I am incredibly proud of AND took me a long time to acquire! Used book stores, Goodwill, Amazon, and begging parents for books has worked quite well 🙂
Once I have my class library list all set up, I then create a Google Class in Google Classroom that is dedicated to our library and only includes ONE link – the link to this spreadsheet. This way, it is incredibly easy for students to find our library list and gain access to it. Initially, I had posted it in our Reading Class, but it quickly disappeared way down the line of other assignments. So creating an entirely separate class has been the most effective.
Finally, the last aspect of my library that I love is that it is an inviting place for students to come and relax and read. There’s nothing better than creating that cozy place for students to curl up with a good book 🙂 The easiest way to do this without adding any furniture (which I have zero space for with 30+ kids) is floor pillows like these ones that I have in my classroom! 🙂
And there you have it! After years of trial and error on MANY fronts with my classroom library, I know this is going to be the most effective and easiest way to keep track of my books, keep my library organized, and cultivate a classroom of readers 🙂
If you’d like to download our Classroom Library Kit, just click here or the picture below! We’ve done all of the legwork for you!
Do you have the genre labels document you could share?
We do! They’re in this resource here that I mentioned in the post 🙂 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Middle-School-Classroom-Library-Kit-3932554?utm_source=EB%20Blog&utm_campaign=8th%20Grade%20Classroom%20Library%20
Your library is beautiful! Where did you get your shelves?
Thank you! They are from Ikea!
I wonder if there is some way I could incorporate the use of a QR code into checking out a book? Hmmmmm…
I know a teacher who did it like this, and it was super convenient for the students, but very time consuming for the teacher.
But worth it in the end. 😀
I just accepted a job as a 7th grade ELAR teacher, and have only ever taught elementary. I’m so excited, but need help with getting more appropriate books for this age group in my library. How can I get a library filled with books without breaking the bank??? Thank you for all of these wonderful ideas. I’ll be utilizing quite a few 🙂
Hey Summer! Congrats on the move. I always just checked out my local library for books they were getting rid of. I also asked my students and parents to donate books that they no longer needed. You’ll have a library in no time at all!
Is there a place that I could see your completed Google sheet? I’m interested in what books you have for this level and the spread of genres. I’m looking to update my classroom library and judging by your pictures, you have a lovely spread.
Thanks, Gabbi! Unfortunately, we don’t have this sheet available, but you should be able to recreate your own that looks similar to ours easily.
How do they actually go about “checking out” books on your google sheets? I’m trying to get my library and procedures set up for next year. Thanks!
Hey Kelsey! They just go into the Google Sheet, find the name of the book they want to check out, and fill out the info. Easy peasy!