Tools to Help You Level Your Classroom Library

A few weeks ago, I shared tips for organizing your classroom library. The response to that blog post has been overwhelming! In the post, I explained that I sort the books in my own classroom library by reading level, as well as theme.

Sorting by theme is the easy part. We all know the importance of providing developmentally appropriate texts to students, but leveling an entire library can be a daunting task … until today!
Tools to help you level your classroom library
I have researched a few of the top tools (both free and paid) for aiding teachers as they level their classroom libraries. Today I bring you pricing information, photos of the tools in action, and my HONEST opinion of each resource so you can make an informed decision about what will work best for you as you level your own classroom library.
Tools to help you level your classroom library
I was pleased to discover that several companies provide iPhone and Android apps that allow you to scan the barcode and receive leveling results within seconds! Free or paid, iPhone (and Android) apps are my favorite type of resource because they are the fastest and most efficient way to level your books.

I’ll start by walking you through a few of the apps I recently installed on my iPhone. It is important to note that whether it was free or paid; no single app was able to identify and provide leveling information for EVERY book in my library. As you might expect, the paid apps sometimes provided data which was lacking in the free apps. In other cases, the FREE Scholastic Book Wizard app provided information about books that the paid apps did not! I would not expect a single resource to single-handedly level your entire classroom library, but each of the apps I successfully tested were able to level an impressive amount of books from my own library.
tools to level your classroom library

Scholastic Book Wizard App

Looking for a great FREE resource to help you get started? Start with the Book Wizard app from Scholastic! The app allows you to manually search (by typing the name of a tittle, author, or keyword). Most importantly, the app has a scanner that allows you to simply scan the bar code to quickly search the database for book information. I was pleased to discover that information for MANY of my classroom books was available in the app. A brief synopsis of the book is included on the “Book Info” screen as well as title, author, and book level information. The one (minor) downside was that the level information was presented in a rather tiny text. As a result, the book level didn’t jump out at me, I had to really look at the screen to see it.

level9
Bonus Feature: The Scholastic Book Wizard app also allows users to create an inventory of all titles in  classroom library. You can also designate how many copies of the book you own and additional notes (such as where the book is filed in your library). I did not see any means to check books in or out. The list would mostly be a helpful tool for helping teachers quickly find a book or keep track of books they already own.

Level It App

My favorite of the paid apps was the Level It app. Just like Book Wizard, this app allows users to manually search for a book, or use your phone’s camera to scan a book’s bar code. This app also provides a description of the book with title, author, and level information. I loved how the levels are easier to discern with a quick glance at the screen. When I had a big stack of books that needed to be leveled, I appreciated being able to quickly and easily find this information so I could move on to the next book in the pile. This app is available for iPhone and Android users.

level it
Bonus Feature: The Level It app includes a feature to inventory your classroom library, along with a class roster. This allows the teacher to create individual student profiles and the ability to check in/out books to specific students. This is not a feature that I can see myself implementing in my kindergarten classroom, but I know it is a tool that will prove to be useful for MANY classroom teachers.

Literacy Leveler App

The Literacy Leveler App by FikesFarm, LLC is similar to the Level It app, but a bit more basic. Priced at $3.99, this app is currently only available for iPhone users. It allows users to manually search by title, author or ISBN; as well as scan each book’s bar code. Although the format of the app is simplistic compared to Level It (the other leading paid app for iPhone users) and did not include a book synopsis, I did appreciate the fact that book level information was boldly formatted and easy for users to see.

level8
Bonus Feature: The Literacy Level app allows teachers to create an inventory of all titles included in their classroom library. It does indicate how many copies of a title a teacher possesses; nor does it allow teachers to make notes about each book. Despite its limitations, the library tool allows teachers to easily see a list of all books in their classroom library books at a given reading level with a quick touch of the screen.

Classroom Organizer App

Another free app for iPhone and Android users is the Classroom Organizer app from Booksource. The app allows teachers to determine reading levels, organize, and track books in their classroom library. The description of this app sounds amazing (especially for a free product). Unfortunately, the great features offered by this app are overshadowed by it’s shortfalls for usability. I followed the instructions and got started by creating an online account with Booksource, but after nearly a dozen attempts, have not been able to successfully log in to the app. Some things should simply not be this much of a challenge. I’m sure it’s a wonderful app, but I have yet to see it in action.
Classroom Organizer…. level  out your classroom library books
Tools to help you level your classroom library
If you don’t have a smart phone or you prefer to look things up on your computer (the new old-fashioned way), there are a few websites that can be equally helpful as you level the books for your classroom library.

A to Z Teacher Stuff Leveled Books Database

The Leveled Books Database at A to Z Teacher Stuff allows users to search by title or author to determine the reading level for student books. Teachers have the option of searching to find Guided Reading Level or Reading Recovery Level.

Although the database is not comprehensive (MANY popular titles from my classroom library are missing from the online resource,)  it is free and helpful for some books. If you are just getting started, this is a resource that should not be overlooked.

a to z levels

Scholastic Book Wizard

If you love the Book Wizard app, you should know that this was the website that started it all. The Scholastic Book Wizard is a free website that allows educators to search by title, author, or keyword. Users can view a book’s Grade Level Equivalent, Guided Reading Level, or Lexile Measure. The extensive database was my first step when I began to level my own classroom library a few years ago.

book wizard-1

Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Book Website

For educators seeking a more official means of leveling their classroom books, the Leveled Book Website from Fountas & Pinnell is available as a subscription service. With a base price of $25 for an annual membership, group discounts are also available.

I Leveled My Books… Now What?

Once your classroom books have been leveled, you will want to make them easily accessible to your students. My own classroom library consists of two categories: books sorted by level and books sorted by theme.  The box containing each type of book is clearly labeled, and each book contained within the box is given a small coordinating label. This way, students have a clear visual cue to help them return books to their proper location.

tools to help you level your classroom library

My Kindergarten Classroom Library

Find out more about my classroom library in this blog post. Learn how it’s organized, where to shop for my favorite book bins and see the little touches I added to make it extra special for my students.

Classroom Library Labels

Organize your library in style with my classroom library labels. Available in {Black Series} and {White Series}, this downloadable product includes labels for a variety of levels and themes to suit your classroom needs. Classroom Library Labels can be purchased in my TpT store.

classroom library labels

Do you have plans to level your classroom library this summer?
What is your favorite book leveling resource?

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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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63 Responses

  1. Another informative post! It was from your blog I got the idea to start visiting library book sales to build my classroom library. I thank you! Today I went to my first library book sale and grabbed 3 shopping bags full of books for $15. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    What’s Working This Year?

  2. Thanks for all the info you have provided! I am totally working on re-doing my library this summer. I am also implementing Daily 5 next year. I was wondering how you do book shopping for their book bins. I have 30 students and a small room and am looking for any tips to help with this task! Thanks 🙂

      1. Do you have any leveling tips or websites for American Reading Company IRLA book levels? We are really struggling in our district, any help would be appreciated.

        1. Log into the Schoolpace page and at the bottom of the far left column click on “Search Book Database.” Follow the directions on the page to check for titles or authors.

  3. Wow, you don’t skip a beat! Thank you so much for all of this great information! I can’t wait to get my new classroom library up and running one the summer.

    1. Great question! Several of the white bookshelves belong to me. I purchased them at Walmart for about $25 and assembled them myself. A few of the white bookshelves are actual wood shelves that belong to the school.

  4. Great information! Another app I came across is Book Retriever (an iPhone app). I’m looking forward to trying it bc it includes AR information and the ability to print labels.

  5. I am trying to decide on which bins to buy. I like the wide bins like your a,b,c and d bins because they make the books open-face for the students to view. At the same time, your slimmer upright bins take up less space. Where did you get your bins? I was looking at the ones on the Really Good Stuff website. What to do, what to do….

  6. In addition, for those of you who have schools which use Reading Renaissance, the app Bookscanner gives AR level and quiz number which is awesome! Not all books scan on it, however, so then I use AR bookfinder website to look them up. I have the quiz numbers on my books and it is handy. I am also barcoding my library with C.L.A.S. (classroom library accounting system) which comes with a scanner, so I can have students scan what books they have in their daily five boxes and what they return. It will give me a report so I can know what my students choose and analyze their choices to make sure they are “just right” etc.

  7. I was unable to find Scholastic Book Wizzard on the iTunes store or through Google Play. 🙁

    @Tracy, I was almost ready to purchase about $200 worth of bins from Really Good Stuff when a friend mentioned Dollar Tree. I went there and found baskets for my bigger picture books, as well as baskets that are smaller for chapter books. Best part? I was able to purchase just the colors I wanted, blue and green and each basket was only $1.00!!!! If you have a local Dollar Tree, I would suggest checking it out before you break the bank at Really Good Stuff! 🙂

  8. I have used classroom organizer for over a year now and absolutely love it! Some titles I’ve had to find in book wizard because classroom organizer didn’t have a level, but I can simply add the level on my booksource page. I highly suggest you try this one again 🙂
    -Monique
    More Than Math by Mo

  9. I saw several posters commenting how Scholastic Book Wizard wasn’t available for the Android market. I just downloaded it from the Play store, although I haven’t used it yet. It just came out July 22nd, so you were a little bit early!

  10. Great post! I am in the process of starting a library for my kids and I’m stuck on what leveling system to use. The prices of them all seem to be so expensive. Which one do you use? Also, how do you initially test your kids for their reading level? Thanks!

  11. Hi, I’m looking for a levelling program that will work on the Blackberry Z10. Do you know of any. I have been searching but so far I’ve had no luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Sharon, I wish I could help but I am an iPhone person and I don’t know anything about Blackberry phones or their apps. Sorry!

  12. Don’t overlook renaissance.com, the site for Accelerated Reader (A.R.), as a free source to level books. Once you to to the site, go to the “Store” button, and you can search for books by title or author—completely free. No; this site does not level by A, B, C, etc., but levels by 1.0, 1.1, 1.2, etc. I label my lowest books A, B, C, D, E, 1.0, 1.2, 1.3, etc. (Students need a reading vocabulary of the first 100 words to do A.R., hence the A-E levels.) While everyone else in the primary grades at my school has gone completely to the ABC leveling, I do still use Accelerated Reader (A.R.), and I find the number leveling to blend well with the letter leveling.

  13. Wow! Very comprehensive post on how to level your classroom library. I’m thinking this will be very helpful for new teachers and for teachers who have not done this yet. Thanks for sharing!
    Shelley

  14. 🙂 Thanks! I googled “how to level books” and your site came up. It was just what I was looking for! Can’t wait to try the scanner on the scholastic app. My son walked by and saw the pic of your library & asked what it was. When I said “a classroom library” he said, “Wow! Hashtag Organized!”

  15. I am happy to see I am not the only commenter from 2015. 🙂 I have been looking for information on how to determine levels the “really old-fashioned way” because a large portion of my books are not in any of the databases I have tried. Does anyone have any instructions they can share or a resource they can point me to (e.g. so many syllables per 100 words=level, lexile, etc.). Thanks for the apps! I will try them all.

      1. Wow! Thanks. That is so helpful. I can’t tell you how long I have been searching for something to help me. If there is anything else anyone can share, I would be most appreciative!

  16. Thank you for this post! I found it very helpful!

    I was wondering, what did you do about books that did not come up on any app? How did you level them? Did you eyeball it? I am having difficulty with this, especially with emergent readers… I was given some Wright Group readers, TWG books, Sunshine books, and Literacy 2000 books. I am leveling according to DRA levels. I’ve leveled most of my library but these emergent readers are killing me. Any advice?

  17. Thank you for all the helpful information. How do you determine which books to level and which to put into a theme? This is my first year with the daily 5 and by Feb my
    Library was a mess.

    1. Hi Amy! Some themes will be very obvious… Christmas books, back to school, particular authors. I start by pulling all the “obvious” theme books that I am certain I have at least 10 books to fit the theme. Many other titles will feel sort of general – those are the perfect books to level!

      1. Oh! That is a great way to start. Thank you! I just started using the Daily Five this year, so my kiddos look for a “good fit” book rather than something in their level. Any thoughts on this? I’m thinking maybe 3-4 within their level in the book box and the others can be whatever their interested in. Any suggestions?

  18. Hi, I love following your blog! Thank you for sharing your ideas. How do you organize your decodable books? Can you sort them by level?

  19. I tripped onto your blog while I was looking for resources to help my kindergarten daughter find level-appropriate books. Thank you for these resources! The Level 1-Level 2, etc. varies so much from publisher to publisher, so having these resources helps level the field. 🙂

    1. These are interchangeable as far as I know. I’ve taught in multiple schools that use F&P Guided Reading System (owned by Scholastic) and these terms mean the same thing most of the time.

  20. Can you tell me how you stick your labels onto the book tubs? WOndering before I order because I don’t like to use tape.
    Thanks!

    1. Definitely don’t use tape! I laminate the labels and cut them out, then hot glue them to the plastic bins. The glue creates a strong and lasting bond that is easy to remove when I want to change out the labels. It peels right off the bins and doesn’t damage them at all.

  21. I was extremely frustrated with Book Wizard (could not get the app to work at all on my iPad!) and came back to try the other free app you mentioned, the Classroom Organizer App from Booksource. I set up my account and was able to log in (you have to use the student password first, then it asks for the teacher one, maybe that’s what was wrong? Took me some time to figure that out. Anyway…) I’m trying to level and catalog a teacher literacy library at my school and I tried this app out on some books. It didn’t look like it was doing much, until I logged into the site. LOTS of information in there just from scanning the books! Then I exported it as an Excel sheet and WOWZA. AR level, Lexile level F&P Level, # of pages…TONS of information. This app has just saved my life in organizing hundreds of books in our literacy lab. Thanks for suggesting it, even though you weren’t able to get it to work. I hope you’ll give it another try!

  22. I find out a more useful level app named literacy leveler – lit lexile, Which provides me with more level info than the others.

  23. Wow! This has been incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to post this for your fellow teachers. I mean 4 years after this was posted and someone is still gaining tremendous value from it. Thank you!

  24. Hi Maria,

    I have tried, unsuccessfully, three times to register with the Book Wizard app from Scholastic. I must either be dumber than a box of hair, or their app is flawed. Is there some trick that I’m missing? I’ve written to Scholastic as well. I’d love to give this app a go, but they apparently have enough users at this time. Sad and disappointed with Scholastic on this.

    On a more chipper note, I did love your very informational blog post and will continue to search out those levels! Thank you for the hard work in putting all of this together for all of us! You’re a gem!

    Audrey

    1. Ugh, I’m sure it’s a glitch in the Book Wizard app and not you that is the source of the problem. I’m so sad to hear that you are struggling with it, but happy to hear that this blog post was helpful to you! Leveling books is a big job, but so worth it!

  25. Do you also add the reading level to your theme books? I feel like I should have both on the theme books, but also use Fountas and Pinnell and will just have the letters for those. Am I just overthinking? I just don’t want students to be constantly “reading” theme books that are not appropriate for their level. Do you have a rule that their book bins can only have reading level books or a certain number or leveled and theme?

  26. I have downloaded the book wizard app on my phone, but it will not let me register, so I can’t use it. Any suggestions

  27. I stumbled across this blog while looking around for an app that would match a book to a reading level. My Rotary Club is in the process of establishing a series of Little Free Libraries primarily geared to younger readers, we are told that coding the books by appropriate age range/grade level would help parents choose books. We are in possession of hundreds of donated/library cast-off/misc books to process. The idea is that we would scan the book’s ISBN numbers for the purpose of establishing that reading level determination. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

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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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