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How I Set Up My Classroom Library

Deciding On Your Classroom Library Setup

I've reorganized my classroom library setup countless times because I couldn't find that “perfect way” that was functional and organized. My first few years of teaching, I organized my library by level. I was teaching grade one at the time and I felt it would be easiest for students to be able to find books at their level for their book boxes.

After a few years, I began to hate having my classroom library setup by book levels. Yes, I know, hate is a strong word but I think it's appropriately used here. By organizing my library by level I was showing students that that was what mattered most. It didn't help them find books with subject matter that they were interested in or authors they loved. Instead, it restricted them to choosing books from one or two bins at their level. What if there wasn't a book on a topic that they were passionate about in that bin? What if their favourite book was at a level lower or higher than their current level? I do believe it's important for children to have access and to read books that are a “good fit” but NOT at the expense of their love of reading.

For more on the debate about leveling classroom libraries, check out the articles and blog posts below.

  1. Thinking Outside the Bin: Why labeling books by reading level disempowers young readers
  2. Fountas & Pinnell Literacy
  3. Pernille Ripp: When We Make A Child A Level

Next, I organized my books by genre and series. I was sure this was going to be the solution until I ended up with a massive stack of books that didn't fit into a category. Choosing categories for certain books was difficult because they could fit into multiple categories. I also found that by organizing books by popular series, students would always migrate towards the books that they knew and would rarely browse through the rest of the books.

Classroom library setup by organizing fiction picture book by author last name using colour coded labels.

My New Classroom Library Setup

Around this time, I listened to Jillian Starr's podcast episode: Classroom Libraries 101. She gave me the classroom library setup idea that I needed! I immediately downloaded Lessons with Laughter's book spine labels then sent them to be printed. My students, Educational Assistant, and I immediately began ripping off old genre/series labels to be replaced with the new ones (pictured below).

First, we separated the fiction books into two big piles (picture books and chapter books). Then, we organized them by author last name. As we did this we asked the students to help peel off the old labels as we listened to the Six Minutes podcast. After, we attached the new labels by Lessons and Laughter pictured below.

The Furniture I Use

I love using the Ikea Kallax cubbies as book shelves. I have one of the eight cubby ones and two with four cubbies. The smaller cubbies are great as they double as benches/desks for students. They are quite sturdy and are a great flexible seating option! Learn more about my flexible seating rules and routines here.

The Classroom Library System I Use

Now that my classroom library is organized, I'm motivated to grow my collection! I am finally happy with the way books are organized in the classroom AND I have a classroom library system ready to go to input any new books that I acquire.

Classroom library system using google drive for keeping inventory of classroom books and having students use the online classroom library book checkout system.
Click the image to check out my Classroom Library System in my store!

If you have any thoughts, questions, or idea to share, I'd love to hear from you! Write a comment or contact me on one of the platforms below.

Amber Evancio

Amber Evancio

I'm Amber Evancio and I currently teach grade four in Northern Canada. I'm passionate about helping teachers lead their classes with efficiency and love.


I’m Amber Evancio and I currently teach grade four in Northern Canada. I’m passionate about helping teachers lead their classes with efficiency and love.


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