How to Organize Your Classroom Library by Genre to Increase Student Reading

July 24, 2014


Make it easy for students to select (and return) books of interest to them by organizing your classroom library by genre.
This isn't a new idea. We have all seen those colored labels on library books that say fantasy, biography, etc. I wanted a way to organize my classroom library in a way that worked for my students and would help them pick out books they liked.

I noticed that most students like to read books about characters who are like them: about boys if they are a boy and about girls if they are a girl. So each books gets either a purple sticker for a female protagonist or a green sticker for a male protagonist. You will notice that the green sticker in the photo above also has "AA." Like I said, most students like to read books about characters who are like them so the AA is for African American, HIS for Hispanic, and so on. If a book has narrators of both genders, I put both a green and purple sticker on it.

Make it easy for students to select (and return) books of interest to them by organizing your classroom library by genre.

The yellow sticker denotes the genre of the book. "N" is for non-fiction and "H" is for historical fiction. Look at what you have in your library. Sort them out into categories that work for you.  Once you have got it all figured out, post a key of what the stickers mean so your students can use your system independently. I also did:
A= action, adventure, sports
F = fantasy, science fiction
T =teens, realistic fiction
P = poetry
D = drama, plays

Make it easy for students to select (and return) books of interest to them by organizing your classroom library by genre.
The supplies for this are easy to get and inexpensive; its just stickers and tape (and a Sharpie). I bought the dot stickers at Target in the office/stationary aisle. When purchasing the different colors, remember that every book needs a genre sticker (yellow for me), so you will need more of that color.

Make it easy for students to select (and return) books of interest to them by organizing your classroom library by genre.After you put the stickers on the spine of the book, cover them with a piece of packing tape. I buy the kind on the roller that is maybe two inches wide. You don't need large strips of tape, just enough so that it covers the stickers and wraps around to the front and back cover of the book a bit.

I am hoping this system will make it easier for my students to choose books they like to read so they will do more reading this year.

If you are looking for cheap/free books to add to your classroom library, check out your local public library. Often people donate books to them, which they sell for twenty five cents to one dollar or you might be able to make a deal to get them for free because you are a teacher. Never hurts to ask. Another great resource is First Book if you work in a school district that qualifies.

For more ideas on encouraging reading in your classroom:

Follow The Literary Maven's board *Reading for Teaching on Pinterest.

Happy reading :)

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3 comments

  1. A different way to classify that suits the needs of the readers - way to go!! I often pick up cheap books from charity shops and car boot sales over here in the U.K. to stock my classroom library - Dr. Who books proved a popular favourite last year with my 9-10 year olds! Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace

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  2. Just found this great post thanks to your newsletter. Great idea -- I've been trying to figure out how to organize the books I have for my students and this looks fairly easy, simple, and inexpensive.

    Since your original post is from 2014 -- I'm wondering how well it worked for your students? And did you assign someone to be a librarian, if you kept the books separated into genres?

    Thanks!

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    1. This organization worked well for my students for the two years I used it (I do pull out/push in services currently so I don't have my own classroom right now). You could assign a student to be the librarian to tidy things up once in a while, but the beauty of using the color coding system is that even in a very young classroom, students can easily return books to where they belong.

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