It’s important to turn up the dazzle dial on your library to appeal to readers in your classroom. Use basket color to designate sections of your library. Print enticing labels with pictures that invite perusal and help when students re-shelve.
Would you rather grab a book from a bin labeled “Devastating Disasters” or “Non-fiction: Storms?” This Epping Elementary School library tempts readers with creative categories including, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” “Road to the White House,” “Compelling Characters,” “New to True,” (for new books), “Before They were Movies,” “Living a Writer’s Life,” and many more.
Leveling is more important in the early grades, but even there, only about one-third of the books should be in “leveled” baskets. While it is helpful for teachers to know the approximate levels of many books in the library, it’s much easier for children to find engaging books in a bin labeled, “Sea Creatures,” than a bin labeled “J.” Also, children can access more difficult texts if they have schema on the topic or from an author or series with familiar characters, styles, or themes.
Libraries are always in flux. Withhold some texts and add them later as units of study change, particularly if units of study include Series Books, Poetry, and Informational Text. Maintain some static categories to use every year and save part of your library for the children to organize and label, creating high interest and ownership. Book browsing to sort and organize a classroom library inevitably yields wish lists of book they can’t wait to read!