WHEW! I tackled a monster of a project this week... I am thrilled to share that my classroom library is finally neatly organized and labeled by genre/author! Every book has a home and every bin has a label! I am one happy teacher! I've put together somewhat of a tutorial that is complete with links, products, and tips to help you get started on creating your very own fabulous and functional reading area for your classroom!
The Books: It tends to come as a surprise to others that I have only been teaching for a year. I am often asked, "How in the world do you have so much stuff?" Well, I just so happen to be a very determined- almost relentless bargain hunter! So, where exactly did all of these books come from in such a short amount of time?
- Thrift Stores/Goodwill - These are great places to start when building a classroom library. The majority of my Dr. Seuss collection is from a local Goodwill. The books were less than a dollar each, and they were still in great condition!
- Scholastic, Scholastic, Scholastic! If you are not a member of the Scholastic Reading Club for teachers, you need to head on over and sign yourself up ASAP! This is an amazing program designed especially for teachers that earns you FREE books for your classroom! Another wonderful thing about Scholastic is the fact that they offer book fairs and warehouse sales. My school's PTO offers each teacher a mini shopping spree at the end of a book fair based on the amount of money our students spend. You'll definitely want to find a Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse Sale in your area too! I'm telling you... this place is book HEAVEN! You can shop thousands of brand new books for 50% to 80% off! They even offer volunteer opportunities so that you can earn a book allowance by the hour and you don't have to spend a dime!
- Amazon - www.amazon.com is perfect for finding a specific book at a great price! When it comes to shopping at thrift stores and warehouse sales it can be hard to find exactly what you need. Amazon is my go to place for those specific book needs! Just type in the title you're looking for and choose the price, seller, and condition that works best for you.
- Parents - I teach at a Georgia Charter School with absolutely amazing parent involvement and support. I can reach out to parents to donate unwanted books or even purchase new books. The kids really enjoy being able to contribute to our classroom library. This gives them a sense of ownership that encourages a responsibility to keep our books neat and tidy.
- Your Community - yard sales, relatives, retiring teachers, neighbors, libraries... the list goes on and on! Reach out and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how willing others are to lend a helping hand and contribute to your classroom library.
The Shelves: The majority of my book shelves are not book shelves at all! They are Stackable Shoe Storage Organizers by Closetmaid, and they can be found at Home Depot for $9.48 each! They are 24 inches wide and 11.5 inches tall. One storage unit can hold three of my book bins and crates when it is assembled with out the extra shelf it includes. I purchased a total of eight for my classroom. The other storage unit pictured featuring the cube shaped shelves can also be found at Home Depot (Walmart and Target carry them too.) These are much more of splurge ranging in price from $30.00 to $70.00. They are definitely stronger and more sturdy, but I have found that you get more storage space per dollar with the shoe organizers!
The Containers: I paid no more than $1.00 for every bin and crate in my library. The blue crates can be found in a variety of colors at Walmart. They are very popular and tend to go quickly, so I would plan to start looking around mid July when "Back to School" merchandise starts hitting stores. The blue and green bins were all purchased at The Dollar Tree. I've said it once and I'll say it again... The Dollar Tree is a teacher's best friend! Like the crates these bins practicality fly off the shelves each Summer. You may have to try several different locations in order to accumulate enough bins for all of your books. Unfortunately The Dollar Tree is not currently selling these containers online, so it can be even more difficult to find the size and color you have your heart set on. I would recommend buying more than you think you actually need if you do find them. You'll thank yourself later when they are no where to be found and you have decided to add an extra row of bins to your library!
The Labels: You guessed it... Teachers Pay Teachers! Yet another amazing resource for teachers. Bethany McClure offers adorable chevron book bin labels in her TPT store. The best part is Volume 1 and Volume 2 are FREEBIES! I fell absolutely in love with them and decided to purchase the complete set! I had fun playing around with the blank templates included with this product and created my own labels for the genres or series that weren't in the set. You can download the font "Wish I Were Taller" that she used for free to ensure that your labels coordinate with the rest! I made the Cam Jansen label pictured below myself. I simply covered her existing clip art with a plain white box and pasted an image from Google over it!
I hope you found this post to be helpful! Please feel free to leave feedback or ask questions in the comments section below!