Classroom Library Organization – Simplified

The library and reading area is an essential part of any classroom. Especially in kindergarten and the younger grades. This is the time when a love for words, books, and reading is sparked in children. This is a comprehensive guide to classroom library organization. It will help you create an organized, functional space with bright colors and clear labels that is fun and accessible to all students (and the teacher too!)

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my links, which helps to support the blog.

classroom library organization

Today I invite you on a tour of my classroom library! I will show you how I organize my books, share links for purchasing materials and furniture that I used when I set up my library and even tell you about my Classroom Library Labels. I have so much to share so let’s jump right in to classroom library organization 101.

Creating a Cohesive Classroom Library

Most teachers have a system in place for organizing their classroom library. Like so many others, my own library contains bins for a variety of reading levels, as well as bins for a variety of seasons, holidays, and themes.

While most teachers are organized, the pitfall of most libraries is a lack of cohesion. Nothing can visually derail a functional library like a mismatched set of bins in a variety of sizes, colors, and styles. My own library contains several kinds of containers (in a few different colors and sizes), but it’s the careful and deliberate placement of each item in the library that makes it stand out and create a jaw-dropping effect.

Notice that each row of shelves contains the same type of box across each shelf. It created a lot of clean lines to draw in they eye and eliminate clutter.

BEAUTIFUL CLASSROOM LIBRARY! this blog post has SO many tips for library organization

The longest shelf in my library contains larger baskets to hold books. There were a few categories of books in which I had an ABUNDANCE of reading materials. They simply could not fit into one of the tall skinny boxes. I added the larger baskets but made sure to use the same color scheme that already existed on the bottom shelf to reduce any unnecessary visual distractions.

Student book boxes are on the top shelf. These are all the same color (green) to add an element of simplicity. Student book bins were purchased at Really Good Stuff. Sets of 12 bins can be purchased in a single color from their online store. They are a great tool for classroom library organization.

this blog post has SO many tips to organize your classroom library

I turned all of my bins from Really Good Stuff backwards on the shelf.  This helped to maximize the pop of color and minimize book clutter.

classroom library organization ideas

I also laminated and used hot glue to attach labels onto each box.

All labels are from my Classroom Library Labels {Black Series} set.

Classroom Library Labels

Here is a view of the complete classroom library. It always looks this nice and well-organized because I  spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year training my students on the proper use and maintenance of our favorite classroom space.

BEAUTIFUL CLASSROOM LIBRARY… this blog post has SO many tips for classroom library organization

Want to know where I bought all of the items in the photo?
You will find a shopping guide at the bottom of this post.

Classroom Library Organization

Once the structure of your library is in place, the next big step is ORGANIZING all of those books into bins. And, even more importantly, LABELING every item in the library so it can remain organized and functional for student use. Not sure where to begin? I’ve got you covered!

Every item in my own classroom library has been labeled and organized using my Classroom Library Labels {Black Series} set. This complete downloadable resource contains two sizes of box labels and coordinating book labels to help you sort and organize classroom books for virtually every reading level, season, holiday, month and theme.

Every teacher needs these labels for classroom library organization

Classroom Library Labels from Kinder-Craze truly are the ultimate resource for labeling your lower elementary classroom library.

this blog post has SO many tips for classroom library organization

Using the set is simple. Print the desired book bin labels and laminate. Cut each label out and attach to library bins. I recommend using hot glue to apply the laminated labels to bins. It is lasting and durable, yet peels cleanly and easily from plastic surfaces. Print coordinating book labels (formatted to print on Avery 5160 labels) and cut into strips to separate labels. Attach to each book that will be stored in the matching bin for easy and child-friendly sorting and organization.

gorgeous labels for a classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

tips to label and organize your classroom library

Where to Shop for Your Classroom Library

People stop by the blog to check out my classroom every day and I receive a TON of emails asking where I purchased many of the items seen throughout the room. Here are the answers to the most common shopping questions!

Feel free to pin the image below for future reference.

where to shop to furnish your classroom library

Green, yellow, and pink book bins (seen on the top and middle shelf under the windows) – Really Good Stuff 

Large pink and green baskets (seen on the bookcase on the left) – Big Lots

Small pink and teal baskets (seen on 2nd shelf of bookcase on the right) – Five Below
Green, pink, and blue magazine boxes (seen on bottom shelves) – Big Lots

White bench with black fabric boxes inside
IKEA Expedit Shelf turned sideways.
UPDATE: IKEA has recently discontinued the Expedit line, but Walmart offers a VERY similar shelf.

Rainbow Pillows IKEA (could not find a current link online)

*NOTE: Big Lots is a great source to stock up on classroom library bins and baskets. They only offer a few colors each year and the new colors release in July and August during Back to School season. Keep your eyes open and stock up early. They sell out fast! Click here to check out the current Big Lots bins available.

 

Shop for Classroom Library Labels

Classroom Library Labels {Black Series} and {White Series} are available for purchase in my TpT store! They are the ultimate resource for classroom library organization.

beautiful labels to organize a classroom library

Still have a question about something you saw in my classroom, answers can be found in many of my old blog posts. Click a question below to read my answer.

I am a new teacher!
How can I build my library on a limited budget? 

I buy all my books from Scholastic book orders.
How can I get more bonus points?

I love the black silhouettes of children playing!
Where can I purchase those images?

Your classroom is gorgeous!
Can I please see more photos?

I love your {Black Series} labels!
What other resources are available in {Black Series}?

I love your stuff but I don’t like to use a lot of ink.
What products are available in the {White Series}?
(Classroom Library Labels are now available in the White Series!)

I want to level my library books! How do I get started? 

tools to help you level your classroom library

A recent blog post has ALL of the answers you need to begin leveling the books in your classroom library! Stop by to find great apps and websites to help you quickly and accurately level your books.

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

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82 Responses

  1. Thanks Maria! I have my library set-up similar to yours, but not as cute : ) One of my summer goals is to update my bins into nice, bright, cohesive colors. I just wish those darn bins didn’t cost so much! : ) I will definitely be purchasing your black labels as well, they look very professional and clear.

  2. The reason you couldn’t find a link to your Expedit shelf on the Ikea website is because they discontinued the Expedit line. Some stores still have some of the shelves, but it just depends what they have in stock. Here in Utah they were marked down to get sell the rest of the inventory.

    They have replaced it with a line called “Kallax” It looks exactly like the Expedit, however, the outside border is about ½ to 1 inch thinner than Expedit.

    Here is a link to the Kallax line for anyone who is interested:
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/search/?query=kallax

  3. Thank you! I am going from teaching only math/science this year to teaching all subjects next year. As a result, I am reworking my classroom library. Your photos and products are inspirational. I’ve put your library labels on my wishlist.
    Teachin’ First

  4. How do you store your “read aloud Only” books? Aka the ones that they aren’t allowed to touch because they will be destroyed? And do you ever rotate the books they ARE allowed to read?

    1. Hi Jenny! That’s a great question. Believe it or not, I have few books that my students are not permitted to touch. Almost ALL of the books I use for read-alouds are also filed in the boxes. I currently have MANY unsorted books that need to be leveled that I store in the black fabric boxes within my IKEA bench. That is a perfect location for storing materials you don’t want students to touch!

  5. What an awesome library! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 I love how fun, yet professional it still looks. I was wondering how you have students pick books for their own individual book boxes? My classroom library is organized similar to yours and I find that the books in my themed book boxes are frequently not good fit books for my students.

  6. Love everything about your classroom and your ideas! I am beginning to think about my library for next year and I was wondering…do you have or know of a guide that you use to determine which level is considered an “A” level, “B” level, etc.? I have seen the apps and sites, but I get stuck when determining which letter to put the book in.

    1. Hi Nicole,
      I don’t have a great guide, but generally I place books that are SUPER easy in my level A box. Those books either include one word per page, are just books with pictures labeled, or have a really easy sentence structure repeated on each page (less than 5 words). Books that are level B tend to have a slightly more complicated sentence structure or perhaps 2 sentences repeated on each page (usually about 7-10 words on each page).

      I hope this helps!

  7. Your classroom is my very favorite…anyway you could do levels for classrooms that are required to sort their books by Accelerated Reading levels?

  8. I’ve been looking everywhere for white shelving units like you have. I can find the regular two shelf size at Walmart/Target, but where did you get the three shelf unit and the two longer two shelve units? Thanks so much!

  9. Just out of curiousity…what’s in the binder? Loving everything about this! I literally just went out to Big Lots and got some bins…boring black since my room is black/white/red. But good news to everyone else the bins are back out!

    1. I store all of my extra book labels in the binder. That way, when I add more books to the library later in the school year, i can easily flip to the label that I need, stick it on the book, and place the book in my library.

  10. Hey Maria!
    I adore my Black Series Book Labels-you have truly thought of everything!
    Quick, silly question: do you know if you ordered the pink baskets or neon pink baskets? I love the pink-and-green in your library and would like to duplicate that in mine.
    Many, many thanks!

  11. Love this! Getting ready to redo my book library and your colors are exactly what I have in my room now! Quick question, what do you do with the books that don’t really fit into any of your catagories? I have a stack of fiction picture books that I am just not sure what to do with. And with your theme boxes (lets say frogs) do you include all your fiction and non fiction in 1 bin?? Thanks for all your help and your awesome product! I am heading to TPT now to buy the labels and heading to Big Lots later today!
    Thanks

    1. Hi! I always mix fiction and nonfiction books into the same theme bin. I like using both kinds of text during a thematic unit. As for the books that don’t fit a particular thematic category… those are the type of books I usually place in my leveled boxes.

  12. Also, can you give me the dimensions of the large boxes from Big Lots. I am looking on their website and think the small ones look to small and the large ones look too big. Neither look like yours 🙂 Thanks!

  13. Great ideas for the library – I am with KKteacher – do you mix fiction/non-fiction? I have way too many books for the space in my classroom library – any suggestions on how to rotate some in/out? I already have the holiday books in a file drawer. any help would be great. Love the labels – thanks!

  14. I need some help with your labels! I’m running into a problem where I don’t need every label on a page but there is no way to cut and paste within the pdf. Since it’s secured…I can’t move it to word and crop. I don’t want to work with the editable labels because I love the ones you have already made within the theme. I really don’t want to waste precious ink printing an entire page when I really only need one or two–or worse, I need one of them twice! Do you have a suggestion?

    1. I’m so sorry but the terms of use for my clip art require it to be “nailed down and secured” which basically means it doesn’t allow for any type of copying and pasting. I completely understand the dilemma but unfortunately, there is nothing I can do to make it more manageable. The best suggestion I have is to go to a local print center (such as Office Max) where you can print by the page. It tends to be more affordable than if you print the pages yourself.

  15. Hi I have bought your entire black and some of your white series. I LOVE it and have received so many complements on my classroom already. I am wondering the same as Kristin mentioned above if the entire label can be cut/paste onto the editable version so that I don’t need to copy/resize each label to fit my needs. I’d like to combine only the box labels I need to preserve ink.

    1. I’m so sorry but the terms of use for my clip art require it to be “nailed down and secured” which basically means it doesn’t allow for any type of copying and pasting. I completely understand the dilemma but unfortunately, my hands are tied.

  16. What type of shelves do you have? (or where did you get them?) I am trying to order some shelving online and wanting to see if I can get the same dimensions as you 🙂 Love your library!

    1. HI Erica,
      2 of the shelves were built in and came with my classroom. 1 shelf was something from my school’s furniture vault. 2 small white shelves were purchased at Wal-Mart. I hope this helps!

  17. I would be interested in seeing the overall layout or floor plan of the classroom space. Love the colors!

    1. A floor plan would be a great idea to share in a future blog post. I will see what I can do… thanks for the great suggestion.

  18. The colors of your book bins from Really Good Stuff do not look like the colors on their web page. Did you get the neon colors (pink and green) or regular pink and green? Thank you!

  19. where did you get your neon caddies from? I can’t find them anywhere! I totally love your classroom and wish I could copy everything to a “T!”

  20. I absolutely love your classroom! I have the shelf and fabric bins from Ikea and am going to try and make a custom cushion for it. I never thought of using it as extra seating in my classroom library, fabulous idea! Where did you get the pink chair cushions that are in the bin? I have only found “granny” material ones.

    1. Hi Bonny,
      Those chair cushions were a lucky find at Christmas Tree Shops a few years back. I think I bought every single one that they had in stock that day.

  21. How did you determine which books to sort into genres/themes and which ones to put in the leveled bins? Or did you simply try to make each bin hold about the same number of books?

    1. Hi Arlene,
      The themes for my books just naturally emerged. I started putting them into piles based on theme. If I had more than 5 books, I labeled it and it became a theme. If it was just 1-2 books about a topic, I leveled them instead. I hope this helps!

  22. Hi Maria,
    I recently purchased your white labels and love the way they printed! I am so excited to start a beautiful classroom library in a brand new school! One question how do you edit the themed labels? I didn’t see a place for that to incorporate more themes (Pet the Cat, Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle) ?
    Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Hi Maureen! You need to use the editable files included in a separate file. Just delete the big letter that indicated the level and change the other text to meet the needs of your theme and add any graphics that you wish.

  23. Hi Maria,
    I love how colorful and organized you are! I was wondering where you got the individual pink cushions/mats? (Not sure what you call them) The ones sitting beside the bench in the white box. Thank you!

    1. Hi Bonnie,
      Those pink cushions were a random find at Christmas Tree Shops a few years back. I think I purchased the only 5 they had in stock!

  24. Hi Maria,
    I bought your library labels and am about to order some book boxes from really good stuff. I wanted to start printing and laminating the labels while waiting for the boxes to arrive. Just wondering if you use the smaller or larger labels on your RGS book bins. Thank you so much!

  25. Your classroom library looks so amazing! I just moved schools and have had to completely redo my library. When I got to my new school, nothing was organized. After reading, I have so many great ideas and resources. Thanks for sharing!

  26. I know I read somewhere about your sorting rule but cannot find it. If you have a Froggy Halloween book, does it go with Froggy or Halloween? I am thinking Halloween otherwise I would never remember to pull it out. Yes? I am trying to think thru my library to figure out how many bins I may need. I will not really need leveled boxes as I am a Full Day PreK program so I am hoping to sort them all by topic or character. Thanks! I have your white labels and am hoping to work on this as my summer project. 🙂

  27. Hello,

    I have a question – I’m working on my library and asking different people their opinion! I was wondering what you do for books that fit into more then one category? For example Pete the cat books that are about valentines day – or Little Critter books that are focused on family? Do you double sticker them, pull them out to highlight them for the holiday ones, or something else?

    Thanks!

  28. Hello,

    I have a question – I’m working on my library and asking different people their opinion! I was wondering what you do for books that fit into more then one category? For example Pete the cat books that are about valentines day – or Little Critter books that are focused on family? Do you double sticker them, pull them out to highlight them for the holiday ones, or something else?

    Thanks you

    1. I don’t double sticker any of my books. I just choose one category that seems like the best fit. If it’s a character book, and I have a box for that particular book, ALL books about that character go in the character box (even if it’s a seasonal or holiday title).

  29. Hi! Your classroom is beautiful. I was just curious–do you print all those labels out yourself? I want to label all my bins and books but that seems like it would be expensive with all the ink required.

    Thank you!

  30. Hello! Love your labels! They were a huge success in my class last year. Now that my classroom library is organized, I am trying to find a similar simple process for organizing my teacher read-alouds and mentor texts. How do you organize these in your classroom? Thanks!

  31. I am looking for more level AA, A & B books for my small group guided reading groups. Where did you get your books?

  32. Four years later and this blog post is still relevant. 🙂 I’ve skimmed every comment. I would love to know where you got the tub for your cushions from The Christmas Tree Shop. I actually scored similar cushions from Wal-Mart a few years ago but can’t find the right tub to store them in. Thank you

    1. Big Lots has some really great bins in stock right now that are big, sturdy, and great for storing cushions!

  33. This is great, thank you so much! I am moving from 2nd to K this year and I am reorganizing my library over the summer!

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)

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