Do you spend countless hours at the beginning of each school year organizing your classroom library with your students and ensuring they understand how books should be returned and kept organized, only to find yourself endlessly finding these same books carelessly tossed back into whatever bin seemed to be the easiest to reach in that moment? If this sounds like your room, as it once was mine as well, I am hoping that this system may help you as much as it has helped my students and I keep this area as user friendly as possible!
First things first, you need to decide how to best organize the library for student use. I have always had my students assist me in organizing ours by genre, coupled with a few books in a series baskets mixed in. I also separate the shelves by "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction" texts bins.
Each of the books in the classroom library is also labeled to appropriately match its corresponding basket. Note: The first year I decided to label the books this way, I had the kids help me to put the stickers on the back of the books and we got it done in no time! Use your resources :)! I would also recommend putting the labels on the back as it doesn't interfere with the title, appearance of the front cover.
Now, when doing their "book shopping" my students were allowed to select up to 3 of these texts at a time, but had to return the same amount of texts that they selected. This way it worked to keep their book boxes from overflowing as well as the library stocked with a diverse collection of books for all students to utilize.
When students returned books, instead of placing them back into the corresponding genre bins, there was one central "Book Return" basket where all books went. Now, I realize, that with the stickers on the back corresponding exactly to the bin in which the text should be returned, this may seem silly. But I will tell you this is probably single-handedly the best thing I have done to maintain library organization. For some reason, no matter how well the troops are trained to put the books back in the bin they belong - they will not always end up there. However, asking them to toss them all into one bin and have another sort for them - totally doable! To ensure all books were sorted properly, it was the responsibility of 2 students each week when they arrived in the morning as part of their routine to take the books out of the return bin and place them in their proper location! With two of them working on this, it took a matter of a minute or two, and they were much more meticulous in putting them back in their proper place as it was their responsibility in that job.
(I apologize I do not have a picture of my book return basket! As I am not in the classroom this year - I pulled from old photos and that wasn't one I had taken....however, I have confidence you can use your imagination!)
Now, while nearly all of the books the students read and returned followed the above expectations, there were a few I kept in designated spaces around the library that the students had to return to their proper place right after reading. These books were those that I, myself, checked out from our school library based on concepts we were studying, holiday texts, and other anchor texts that we had read as a class that I wanted students to be able to have more frequent access to and that also, I did not want or could not add a label to!
These types of "special" texts were placed on wall shelves or display stands around the library.
My students knew that they were able to pick these up at any time during "Read to Self" or free reading time, but they must be returned immediately at the conclusion of this time so that I was able to keep track of them and other students had access that same day as well!
Overall, I think the key to maintaining that "Book Nook" of yours is to make it a system that is user friendly and easy to keep up for both you and your students! I have found this to work for me, but I always love learning and incorporating new ideas from others as well! Do you have any other tips and tricks that have worked well for you in maintaining library organization?
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