Continuing our Classroom Library Set Up

Ten days ago I wrote about the work we are doing with our classroom library. It’s moving along. Slowly, but it is moving along.

The classroom library is still covered but we have sorted all of the books we unpacked from the boxes into baskets. Currently those baskets are labeled with post-it notes as we know we might want to revise baskets as we discover new books. Once we’re fully sorted we’ll make more permanent labels (and by we, I mean the kiddos).

Many of the fiction baskets we’ve set up so far, in the largest area of our classroom library. (Although the Fly Guy basket has both fiction and nonfiction in it.)

Some of the nonfiction baskets we’ve set up now. This bookcase is at the end of the main section of our classroom library, right beside our couch.

More nonfiction baskets. This bookcase is near our class carpet gathering space. To the right are the displays of the books I’ve read aloud.

More of our fiction baskets. This bookcase stands alone near our cubbies and sink. We’ve got books everywhere!

After a few days of looking through tubs full of random books for the one specifically desired or even for one that looked appealing, the kiddos were definitely ready for a discussion of how best to organize our books. They immediately identified some baskets they thought would be useful: Piggie and Elephant, Magic School Bus, Fly Guy, Robert Munsch, and True or False books.

So far the fiction books we have out are pretty easily organized by author or series. The nonfiction was a little more challenging. Some kids sorted books by series like the fiction. So we had Smart Kids books together, I Wonder Why books together, and so on. Others decided to organize books by topic, putting insect books together and ocean animals books together. I took the books and kept them in the groups the kids had chosen.

The next day I posed two questions. The first one was specific to Fly Guy at the time, but could impact future planning. There had been some debate about whether or not the fiction and nonfiction Fly Guy books should be together. So we discussed whether or not fiction and nonfiction can be in a basket together. They decided no, that shouldn’t happen, except in the case of Fly Guy. Those they wanted together. I’ll be curious to see if this comes up again and, if so, how they feel about it then.

The next question was broader. In nonfiction, should we sort by topic or by series? We looked at the baskets we had already made with nonfiction books. We had several sorted by series: True or False books, Basher Science books, Brad Meltzer’s biographies, and the Take-Along Guides books. We also had some by topic, including magnets and outer space. After some discussion the decision was reached that, most of the time at least, we want the nonfiction books to be sorted by topic. This included some wonderful discussion about what would be most helpful to us when it comes to finding books we want to read.

We laid out our nonfiction books and sorted them. We ended up with some great baskets, I think, and had some really interesting discussions about different kinds of animals. Tomorrow I’ll pull out more books and we’ll see how this experience has helped us sort books we haven’t spent as much time enjoying…

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