Thursday, January 17, 2013

Classroom Library Tips and Book Ideas

I will admit that my posts have been a bit MIA in the last month or so.  The holidays kicked my bootie and I'm now neck-deep in a pool of formal assessment and analyzing.  I'll post soon about assessment (things I have been learning in the last few years). 
In an effort to keep my readers, my teaching partner (AKA Nature Girl) has generously shared an article that she wrote about her classroom library.  We both have a passion for finding new reads for our littles that will inspire and motivate them to become stronger and life-long readers.  Enjoy!

 Anatomy of a First Grade Leveled Library
Melissa Berndt, Webber School

            I just expanded and rearranged my leveled library for the umpteenth time, and am really pleased with the way it now fits my readers! I have a small classroom, a lot of books, and a passion for reading workshop, so the challenges of keeping the library updated and accessible are ongoing. Reorganizing my books helped me to see where the holes are in the collection and where weeding may be needed. The students are always happy to offer suggestions for new purchases and I ask for their help sorting and labeling books.

Here’s the latest set up:
Levels A and B each have one tub; I don’t have a lot of readers come into my class at these levels. The books are a variety of genres from leveled book publishers such as Newbridge, Wright Group, and Benchmark, as well as Scholastic nonfiction guided reading sets.
Levels C through I occupies two or three tubs each. Nonfiction and fiction are mixed together to expose children to a variety of text. I’m working on adding more books at the “sticky” levels D,E, and H, as these levels are where my children tend to linger the longest. Some of these books were purchased from the publishers mentioned above, but also from Scholastic, Amazon, and used book sales. Many of our favorite level C and D books are from the Brand New Readers sets. I also recently discovered the Blastoff Readers series of informational books, and have been adding these as my budget allows. The Scholastic Science Vocabulary Readers nonfiction series is also fantastic, and I add these whenever I can. My goal is to have half fiction and half nonfiction in each tub. Although the fiction series books at these levels do not have their own tubs, I have a few mixed in, including:
·         Fly Guy by Arnold
·         Dragon by Pilkey
·         Max and Mo by Lakin
·         Puppy Mudge by Rylant
·         Sam by Labatt
·         Noodles by Wilhem
·         Biscuit by Capucilli
·         Max Spaniel by Catrow

(These books have levels from E-I, and some vary within the series.)
Once students are reading at a level J, the focus really shifts to comprehension, and series books become important for building knowledge and confidence. For levels J-M, I have one tub of general fiction, one tub of informational texts, and several tubs sorted by series per level. They are mainly purchased from Scholastic, Amazon, and used book sales.
J-M Tubs
·         Fiction (books not part of a series)
·         Informational
·         Henry and Mudge by Rylant
·         Annie and Snowball by Rylant
·         Mr. Putter and Tabby by Rylant
·         Poppleton by Rylant
·         Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Silverman
·         Morris the Moose by Wiseman
·         Little Bear by Minarik
·         Young Cam Jansen by Adler
·         Fox by Marshall
K Tubs
·         Fiction
·         Informational
·         Frog and Toad and other books by Lobel
·         Nate the Great by Sharmat
·         High Rise Private Eyes by Rylant
·         Commander Toad by Yolan
·         M & M Mysteries by Hafner
·         Iris and Walter by Guest
·         Minnie and Moo by Cazet
·         Mercy Watson by DiCamillo
L Tubs
·         Fiction
·         Informational
·         Ricky Ricotta by Pilkey
·         Horrible Harry by Remikewicz
·         Cam Jansen by Adler
·         Freddie Fernortner by Rand
·         Andy Shane by Jacobson
·         Ready, Freddy by Klein
·         Jigsaw Jones by Preller
·         Roscoe Riley Rules by Applegate
·         Cobble Street Cousins by Rylant
·         Mouse and Mole by Yee

M Tubs
·         Fiction
·         Informational
·         Magic Tree House by Osborne
·         Rainbow Magic by Meadows
·         Junie B Jones by Park
·         Katie Kazoo by Krulik
·         Lighthouse Family by Rylant
·         Bailey School Kids by Dadey and Jones

N Tubs
            I have very few students reach level N in first grade. However, this is our fiction assessment ceiling, so it is important that I do have something available at this level. I have a few popular series titles in the N fiction tub, including some Geronimo Stilton, A to Z Mysteries, and The Secrets of Droon. I usually help readers at this level discover a favorite book or genre and then help them find more titles in the school library or a second grade room. I encourage first graders at this level to focus on informational text.
·         Fiction
·         Informational
            Each tub is simply labeled with the level or series name. I do not include photos or clip art on the labels. Readers in levels A-I are pointed to their appropriate tubs when shopping, and the series names are all that is needed for my higher readers. Some series have to share tubs, especially if they are similar or if I don’t have many copies. The leveled library is housed in two wooden storage “cubby” units with clear bins and one wooden bookcase with blue plastic bins from Lakeshore. The cubby units hold a lot of books but limit the size of the books; I prefer the more flexible bookcase and bin option.
            Each leveled book has the level written in permanent marker on the cover. I prefer this to stickers which eventually fall off. The leveled books also have library pockets and cards inside their covers, which the students use to check out one book at a time for reading at home. All of the books also have a return address label with my name or room number on the cover. This helps the books find their way back to me if misplaced and helps me keep track of which books are my personal purchases.
As new books come in, I buy myself a bit of time and build excitement by placing them in a special “New Books” bin. New books are accessible to everyone as they wait to get labeled and moved to their final homes.
I also have a non-leveled library that is sorted by genre, author, or topic. These books are housed in 5 bookcases and 70 blue Lakeshore bins. Students use the leveled books only for reading workshop and have access to the other books throughout the day for choice time and research reading. Together, my leveled and non-leveled collections provide us with tons of options and inspiration. They are worth the work!


  1. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing it!!

  2. Wow! This library sounds really amazing! Our school has 2 leveled libraries for each reading specialists rooms. They are great but I would love to have my own in my classroom. Makes giving out new books easier. Baby steps! Keep up the great work on the library!
    Mrs. Landry’s Land of Learning