You've set up your classroom library and organized all of your books - now how can you keep it looking great all year long?
The tips below will help you keep track of your books, help 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students know how to return them to their proper location, and help keep your classroom library looking clean and organized all year long.
Sometimes I recommend products and may be compensated at no cost to you if you choose to buy.
How to Keep Your Classroom Library Books Clean and Organized
1. Label Your Books With Your Name
Labeling all of your classroom library books with your name is not crucial, but it is helpful - especially if you let students take books home with them.
It can be easy for students to forget where a book came from - and then they will not know where to return it!
2. Make Sure Students Know Where to Return the Books
To keep your classroom library looking clean and organized, students need to know how to return books to their proper spot!
This will look different depending on how you choose to sort your books and how you choose to display your books.
There is not one "best way" to do this - do what works for your students and your classroom.
Displaying Books In Bins
The easiest and preferred method for teachers that choose to display their books in bins is utilizing different colored stickers. Label each bin with a certain colored sticker - and then each book that belongs in that bin also has that same colored sticker.
This can be time consuming depending on how many books you have. But you could also turn it into a lesson at the beginning of the school year and have students help sort and label books!
Stickers like this are great because they are easily adaptable - whether you are sorting by genre, author, reading level, etc.
If you are sorting by genre, then using genre stickers can be fun - although a little pricier!
Displaying Books By Spine
Stickers also work if you are not using bins in your classroom, and instead putting books on shelves and displaying their spine. (Check out the advantages and disadvantages of bins / no bins.) Rectangular stickers that can wrap around the spine have the cleanest look.
Bookshelf dividers are another great option if you are displaying book spines. They are easy to move around and adjust, and you can adapt them for however you are choosing to sort your books.
3. Let Your Students Help Keep the Library Organized
You already have enough to do. Pass over most of the responsibility of keeping your classroom library clean and organized to your eager-to-help students.
Make organizing the classroom library one of your classroom jobs. This works best if you have set up a classroom job system where students get to keep the same job for an extended period of time.
You can have your classroom librarians check the condition of books, make sure books have made it back to the correct spot, and even check out books!
If you don't assign classroom jobs, then consider inviting a few different students to have lunch with you whenever the library needs some organizing. The students can have lunch in the classroom, and then organize your books for you.
4. Have a Return Basket
This simple and effective idea was suggested to me by 5th grade teacher Toni. She has a "return basket" near her library for students to place books when they can't remember where the books go.
This is an easy way to keep students from putting books away in the wrong spot. Your classroom librarian can shelve any of the books that end up in this return basket for you.
5. Have a Book Hospital
If 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students are reading and rereading books, some of the books are bound to get a little worn. Books might start falling apart, pages might get torn, etc.
Have a basket for students to place these books so you can fix them up before the destruction is unfixable. Use this cute book hospital freebie as a sign on your basket.
6. Have a Check Out System In Place
There are so many different ways you can have students check out books - the most important thing is that they know exactly what they are supposed to do.
Whether you have a simple sign out sheet, an old fashioned library check out, or you use this free electronic check out system, or you don't use any system at all and allow students to take books as they please - just make sure students know what is expected of them!
Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!
Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!