Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Classroom Library

A year or two ago, my son was going through a difficult period and needed some activities to distract him from his own challenges. So I gave him a few jobs around the house and in my classroom. He fixed a couple of things, moved heavy furniture, ran some errands, cooked some meals ... and then I had him count the books in my classroom library. Haha! What a job!

My classroom library is organized into five sections. First, I have a lot of books that are sorted by level for guided reading instruction. I keep them in bins near my reading table, and I give them to students (and then students store them in bags inside their book boxes) when appropriate. Second, I have a collection of books that I use to teach lessons. I generally don't let students have access to those books. I know, selfish! But this set of books is very carefully organized and that's just how it is.

So two of my five sections? Really just for me. The students are exposed to all those books in some way, but they don't get full access. It's okay, though... there are plenty of books that the children have access to all the time! According to my son's calculations... there are nearly 4,000 of those books!

The third section of my library is organized by author. I have 19 book boxes, each one filled with books by the same author: Tomie DePaola, Kevin Henkes, Mo Willems, Audrey Penn, Patricia Polacco, Keiko Kasza, Steven Kellogg, Mercer Mayer, David Shannon, Dav Pilkey, Eric Carle... This picture only shows eighteen boxes, but I promise there are nineteen!


The next part of my library is organized by character or series... Pete the Cat, Berenstain Bears, Clifford, Magic School Bus, Dr. Seuss, Angelina Ballerina, Arthur, Curious George, Jigsaw Jones, Nate the Great, Magic Tree House, Franklin...


I store the coordinating stuffed animals in the boxes, and students are allowed to read to them at certain times.

The fifth and final section of my classroom library is organized by subject/genre/type. I have books about food, weather, friendship, families, frogs, mammals, reptiles, holidays, birthdays, math, inventions, bears, school... there is a Joke Book box and a Fairy Tale box and a Word Book box. One box is filled with Rhyming Books, and another holds all the ZooBooks.


Each of the three sections for students is organized in alphabetical order, either by last name (authors), character name or topic.

There are a total of 96 book boxes. How ridiculous!

I started collecting the boxes about five years ago. They were $2.95 at Lakeshore, and I never bought even one without a coupon of some kind. Most of the time I had a buy one, get one 50% off coupon, so the boxes were around $2.25 each. Not as cheap as the dollar store, but they are unbelievably sturdy. After a year or so (I had purchased about 20 boxes), the price went up to $3.95, but by then I felt pretty committed. Luckily I had a very large PTA fund that year, and I bought most of the boxes then.  Now the boxes are $4.99 each, which I think is pretty outrageously expensive. I have no plans to add new boxes. And if I really feel the need, I will likely regroup and use a box I already have (I could put all the Magic School Bus books into the Science box, or move all the Halloween books into the Autumn box.) I never would have chosen these boxes if the price had been $4.99!  That said, however, these boxes will last forever! They are in perfect condition after five years.

Actually, I have one more collection of books. They are organized by level, and they are for students to borrow and take home. I'll talk more about how I manage the take home books at another time.

Four. Thousand. Books.

Where did they come from? Many were acquired for free... public library giveaways, school library giveaways, the "free" section at garage sales, Scholastic bonus points, books my own children's friends grew out of. Most were very, very cheap... from RAFT or thrift stores or from clearance shelves. One nearby thrift store sells most of their books for 19 cents... and they frequently have 50% off sales. I've walked out of that store with 70 books for $7 plus tax on a number of occasions.  A few books I purchased from Scholastic (and then earned more free books), some are from Amazon, lots I cleaned off of my own kids' shelves.

One of my daughters organized all those boxes. Which was another job in itself! She sorted and alphabetized for a couple of hours and all it cost me was $30 in Think Geek t-shirts! What a deal!



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