This is what my kitchen looked like for most of the summer.
(Wondering how I cook? Well, no problem there… I NEVER cook! Either I eat cereal, my son cooks, or I eat out! Not the best health plan, right?) So why did it look like that? Megan and Ginnny (my daughter-in-law) BOTH have new libraries to organize. Megan changed schools AND grade level, and Ginny changed grade level. I think we sorted, leveled, labeled and taped over 8,000 books!
Here’s what we did…
- First, we found these two apps in our app store. Now the Level It app did cost $3.99, but it’s a pretty good app, We were able to find levels on over half of our books by using these two apps. After downloading the apps, you just scan the barcode on the back of the books. It’s really pretty simple; just takes time.
2. As we found the levels, we stacked the books into piles… all the A’s together, all the B’s together, etc. Any book without a level — we put them in a separate stack.
3. We took all of the Level A books and sorted them: fiction and nonfiction. We did that for each level.
4. Then, we organized all of our fiction books in these storage containers — by their level. You can get these tags here as a free download.
5. Then, we did the same for our nonfiction books. Note to self: Look for more nonfiction leveled text! Each of the leveled books has a label that indicates the level.
6. Then, we tackled that pile of books that we were unable to find the level using either app. We sorted these books by their topic. We want our kids to be able to shop for books that are good fit because they are high interest, not just level! I always think about my little boys. They want so badly to read a book about dinosaurs or sharks or trains. But, there aren’t really any good nonfiction low-level books on these topics. They can read these books by gaining information through the photographs, diagrams, and other illustrations.
7. Then we took each topic stack and sorted them by fiction and nonfiction. On each book we put a label to match the hanging tag. This makes it super easy to put the books away! On the nonfiction books, we added a yellow dot and wrote “NF”. This will help the kids know to which area they should return their books.
Here’s what those labels look like. You can find the labels and tags here.
8. Then we took the books that fit into categories like Nursery Rhymes, Math Books, Rhyming, Science, Art, etc. and organized them into this section. Now, this section is still under construction. We have moved the favorite characters and authors out. We are re-sorting the math books by standards to make them easier to use. You can get the math labels here as a free download.
9. This is the section where we organized our favorite characters and authors. Now, we know that this will probably change during the year as we get to know our kids. When we find someone that they are crazy about reading, we will move that collection into a tub and label them for ease.
10. Our last section is the books that are related to what we will be teaching right NOW. So as we come to a new unit, we go to the fiction and nonfiction topic areas and bring those books to display on this shelf. After teaching the topic, we return the books back in the bins and return them to their shelf.
Yes, we know… we are lucky to have SOOOOOO many books! I have collected books for 30 years and Megan has been collecting for 7! That’s a lot of books. On top of that, her school actually has a pretty good library for each room. As a matter of fact, we had more books than would fit. So we took the levels that we are thinking will be too easy or too hard and moved them to this hidden storage shelf. After the year begins and we complete our running records, we will move books out as needed.
Book shopping is part of our morning routine.
Each day, 1/5 of our class shops.
When it is their day to shop, I put this “shopping” list on the spot where they find their other morning work.
The kids look at the list to determine which book areas to visit, how many books in each area they should find, and — when applicable — which level.
I’ve made several different tags so that I can determine how many books I am going to let them shop for.
Early on, I might select some books for them and let them shop for a few. This will greatly reduce the amount of time they spend shopping. It about drove me crazy when after 20 minutes they only had 2 books in their bag. So I start them with the “shopping” list with fewer selections. I can also adjust the number of books in each area by changing the numeral I write. You can get the “shopping” list here as a free download.
Kim taught kindergarten for 30 years and now works full time as a teacher trainer. She travels throughout the United States presenting and consulting. Kim continues to work with children in her daughter Megan’s classroom. Stop by Kim’s TpT store, or visit her on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, or on her blog and YouTube channel.