A school book room can be an educational treasure chest. With a wide selection of literary pickings, they support teachers in providing students with materials and texts at varying reading levels. The book room is a space that needs to be easily accessible by all teachers, with high-quality, diverse titles in many genres, levels, and themes, as well as multiple copies for small group instruction. There should be a simple system for checking out multiple copies at different reading levels, and, of course, a lot of books.
Keeping your book room well organized will only add to its functionality. Here are few points to consider when organizing the space so that your guided reading room runs smoothly:
Determine your borrowing system
Nailing down a check out system that works for you and your students is crucial for book room maintenance and functionality. If you have an electronic system, keep a return library cart nearby for easy drop-off. For self-check out, many teachers use clothespins, library cards, notebooks or binders, a whiteboard, or bulletin board with Velcro tags. Literacy coach and teacher Kasey Kiehl created this wonderful freebie to kick start organizing your book room. If you find these check-out methods to be too cumbersome, try opting for the honor system instead.
Clearly labeled references for easy navigation and storage
Simplify the process of locating materials by alphabetizing and color-coding book sets by genre, topic, title, author, or text level. For instance, use blue for science and green for social studies. Labeled bins, magazine boxes, and resealable plastic bags are great for storing your books. Hoffman Trails Elementary in Hilliard, Ohio uses a Fountas and Pinnell leveling system, beginning at level A and ending at level Z. Not exactly sure how to level your readers? Find a level correlation chart here or download the Houghton Mifflin Bookroom Reference Guide here.
Regularly scheduled maintenance
Like a car, your book room will also require regular maintenance check ups. Teachers should schedule time every one or two weeks to look for missing references, clean up the borrowing system, straighten materials, collate, and shelve book copies. Setting aside a little bit of time here and there will save you from organizational headaches later on. Remind book room users to return items as soon as they are done with them and to notify a teacher if things go missing. Maintenance is an ongoing process in order to keep the books rotating for other teachers to use and to help facilitate an organized space.
Keep it simple. Don’t overdo your book room with so many steps it’s almost impossible to use; or worse, the book room isn’t a fun place to be. Think about better ways to better organize, but don’t over complicate the system.
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