We have the Accelerated Reader program at my school and for the last four years I have organized my books by AR level. I don't love AR. In fact, I loathe it. Students choose books for the wrong reasons, as much as I try to teach them the I PICK strategy. Also, the quizzes are on the knowledge level of Bloom's Taxonomy, and many ask students to recall very small unimportant details, while I'm trying to teach them the bigger picture: theme, making connections, etc. I feel there are more important ways to get kids reading than to have them take a computerized quiz after every book. I have decided that next year, although I am still required to use AR, I am going to make it as minimal as possible in my classroom, starting with my classroom library.
While packing up my room last week, I took the time to take a good, hard look at the books I'm keeping in my classroom. I have over 500 books, and I would say at least 50% were purchased by me. I have an affinity for books. Every year I always say I'm going to scale back on what I buy for my classroom. This never includes books. I was just at Ollie's on Friday and purchased about 15 books again. I don't know if Ollie's is regional, but if you have one in your area, check it out! Hardcover books for $3.99!
Anyways, this week I had my class help me sort my books by genre. Of course, the majority of my books are realistic fiction and fantasy. I also sorted picture books, fiction animal books, fiction sports, science fiction, historical fiction (which, as a Social Studies teacher I had a ton of), biographies, non-fiction Earth & Science, non-fiction history, and non-fiction general. I was pleasantly surprised at the broad selection my students have to choose from. I didn't feel as though my classroom library was utilized this year as much as it should be, and I blame my AR leveled-sorting. Next year, my classroom library will be sorted by genre. I teach genre, why not sort the books that way?
Organizational tip: While packing up my books, I placed them in gallon sized ziplock bags and marked the genre on the bag. When returning in the fall, I just have to put the pre-sorted books in their bins. I also kept a list of the # of books I have in each genre, so if I'm out at half-priced books, Ollie's, or yard sales, I know what I should be on the lookout for. I know I'm definitely going to add some poetry books and folktales to my collection.
What tips do you have for organizing your classroom library? Do you organize by genre or level, or both? Do you put color-coded stickers on your books to make sure they get returned to the appropriate bins? How do you ensure your books get returned? I would love to hear your input!