How to Organize Your Classroom Library

One of the most magical parts about teaching is being able to foster a love of reading amongst your students!

Before they get into later years where reading might lose some of its joy (uni, I’m looking at you here!), a love of books helps not only to improve literacy but to encourage imaginative play, too.

If you haven’t yet got a library section in your classroom, or your current book nook just isn’t working how you imagined it would, then read on, friend! I’ve popped together some tips on how to organize your classroom library to minimize headaches and maximize reading for your students.

A quick note – these are only tips! Please know there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to your library set up, it’s completely up to you to decide what will work best for your students.

Three images of a classroom library set up. There are shelves filled with book tubs, with a pink rug in the foreground and a bulletin board that reads ‘launch into a good book’ in the background.

My BFF @lololoveslearning blew me away when she revealed her new library set up in her classroom! Using my Bulletin Board Lettering Pack and Editable Boho Rainbow Classroom Labels.

What is a classroom library?

A classroom library is a great resource for your little learners to be able to directly interact with books on a day-to-day basis!

Promoting literacy skills, a classroom library is usually a collection of books, magazines and any other literary resources that are tailored to your students’ general reading level and interests. Covering the spectrum of fiction and non-fiction, a classroom library is a helpful tool for teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans to encourage enthusiastic, motivated readers!

What is the benefit of a classroom library?

Outside of providing direct support to your literacy lessons, having a library in your classroom serves multiple other purposes!

It helps your little learners to learn about the concept of libraries and how they operate; it provides directly accessible resources for any students who want to engage in extra reading outside of lessons; it allows you to incorporate individual and group reading into your curriculum; and it gives students the opportunity to read across a range of topics and genres that might interest them, regardless of what their home situation might look like!

Where to set up your classroom library

The first thing you’ll need to do when creating your library space is work out where you’ll put it!

This might be impacted by the grade you teach, or the personalities of your students. If you’ve got younger kids who are just starting out on their reading journey – then having the library up front might work better with your lesson plans, where you can involve lots of students at once.

If your kids are a little older, then a library towards the back of the classroom or in a corner might be a better spot, as they can retreat there and read quietly without disrupting the other kids.

How to set up your classroom books

Once you’ve settled on a spot, it’s time to think about the library system you want to implement in your classroom!

I tend to see teachers go down one of two paths – using book bins to group books by theme or author surname initial; or emulating a traditional library set up, organizing books with the spine facing outwards and ordered by author that way.

Depending on the types of books you have and how old your kids are? I like the spine-out method, because it helps your students to prepare for the experience of going to a real library! Especially if you have some real bookworms in your class, they’ll love being able to walk into their local public or council library and find more books to read.

A 3x5 cubby hole shelf filled with classroom library book tubs

@the_taylored_teacher’s book bins look great! I love how she’s labelled them using my round Boho Rainbow editable classroom labels.

Just make sure you help to make the process a little less overwhelming, and signpost everything super clearly with some classroom library labels. This creates an easy-to-follow system to support your little learners as they become familiar with the WIDE, wide range of books that are out there!

This Boho Rainbow Classroom Labels pack comes with three different sizes of classroom library labels – round, large tray size and a medium version to get your library looking organized (and beautiful, too).

If you’re starting out with picture books, the spines on those bad boys might not quite be thick enough to use this system, ha! Combining the two systems can work really well here – use editable classroom labels to create an organization system based on author name (e.g. books with authors whose surnames begin with A through G go into one bin; H through N and so on).

As a general rule of thumb, no matter what system you go for, I recommend splitting out fiction from non-fiction.

 bunting hung in an arched frame covered with leaves that says ‘Reading Garden,’ leading into a classroom library

@acraftyteach took her set up to the next level! I love the idea of a Reading Garden, that she created using my Modern Boho Vibes Bulletin Board Lettering Pack.

Where can I get books for my classroom library?

If you’re setting up your first-ever library for your class, sourcing books can be a challenge – particularly on a teacher budget!

Here are a few cost-effective places to look for books:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Thrift stores like Goodwill/Salvation Army
  • Garage sales
  • eBay/Amazon
  • Friends and family

Time to decorate your classroom library with editable classroom labels

Now that your books are all sorted, you can get stuck into the fun part – decorating your classroom library however you want! A quick note to say that if you don’t want to decorate this space, or have a classroom library theme that’s a-okay too.

A great tip if your classroom doesn’t already have them is to install bulletin boards on the walls around your dedicated library nook. This way, it’s super easy to create and change displays over time based on what you’re learning that term; or just rotate through some inspirational quotes to accompany your little learners on their reading journey!

My Bulletin Board Lettering Pack is filled with editable classroom labels with a variety of different styles of lettering to choose from – just type in your text, print and voila! You can create just about any space you want to with these, you’re only limited by your own imagination.

And that’s it! I hope you feel a little more confident to tackle creating and organizing a library in your own classroom. And if you do? I’d love to see how your library comes to life! Make sure you tag me over on Instagram so I can see.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips on how to organize your classroom library, as I’m sure our community would love your advice!

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