Image shows two girls and a boy lying on stomach reading together in a classroom.

Easy Ways to Refresh Your Classroom Library

Remember back in the beginning of the year when you so painstakingly put your classroom library together?  Or…maybe you didn’t quite get to it like you’d hoped, and it’s been a back burner project for a while.  In either case, it’s likely it’s time to refresh your classroom library.

If your students have been losing engagement in their reading lately, it likely isn’t entirely due to the upcoming holiday break.  Yes, that’s some of it, but certainly not all.  What better way to reignite their excitement for reading than returning to school to see an inviting, refreshed library full of books just waiting for them?

Most of us have a workday or two either at the beginning or end of the holiday break, making this the PERFECT time of year to give your library a little attention.  It will be time WELL spent!

Image shows boy in white tshirt and jeans lying on stomach reading a book in a classroom library.

Some tips to refresh your classroom library:

  1.  Repair that stack of “book hospital” books.  It doesn’t take long at all to batch this job, and, like a cavity, the stack will just grow larger the more you ignore it.  This alone will look and feel better.
  2. Be sure your bins contain what they’re supposed to.  Lord knows that when kids are in charge of putting things away, it doesn’t always go 100% smoothly.  
  3. Now, reassess your categories. Put away some that aren’t so popular anymore.  That’s perfect–it means you now have room for some different ones!  By now, you’ve gotten to know your students very well–so work in things that would interest them.  
  4. Consider how you’ve grouped books.  If you level your library, think about where your kids are.  If, for example, you teach second grade and the highest level your kids are working with is an L, then it makes little sense to have your P and up books out yet.  Save them for later, when kids are ready.  Encourage them to make choices that they can comfortably–or mostly–decode and comprehend by narrowing the supply a bit so it’s tailored to them.  This is, after all, their classroom library!
  5. Even better, group your levels into bands.  This gives kids a lot more options to choose from that will also give them some stretch.  It also accounts for the many reasons leveling is by no means a perfect science.  I explain more about that in this post.  
  6. If you’ve gotten some new books lately, make room for them!  Display some, make a new bin for them…but make them prominent!  Maybe even stick a post it note on some that are on display with a star rating from you and one or two sentences telling what you thought.  Whatever the teacher values, kids covet.  
  7. Think about your upcoming curriculum.  Will you begin a new genre in writing?  Gather books to serve as mentor texts!  What’s coming up in science or social studies?  Bring those topics front and center.  If you also incorporate these books into your read alouds, you’ll not only front load big concepts to make your teaching stronger, but you’ll also build excitement for these books.  Remember, what the teacher values, so do the kids!
  8. If you stipulate how many books kids can choose from in a given week, reassess this.  Your kids have grown as readers.  As they get into longer books, they’ll need fewer of them. You might want to make a new chart or poster to reflect this.
  9. Move some bins around a little bit.  Just like our eyes go to the middle of the cereal displays at the grocery store, kids do the same in the library.  Rotate some of the bins a bit if it doesn’t mess with your organization system.  Your students will think it’s Christmas all over again when they “discover” new books!  
  10. Super fun way to refresh your classroom library? Relabel.  Many books can fit multiple categories.  Change it up to add excitement.  Better yet, have your kids make the new labels for the new categories.  This saves you a ton of time, gives your students a great sense of ownership over what’s in the library, and it’s super cute!  

One more tip–if you didn’t do it before the break, be sure you’ve made room in your schedule when school resumes to have kids refresh their book bins.  The holiday break is long–they will need fresh books.  And they’ll be dying to get into that newly refreshed library you’ve spruced up, so it’s perfect timing!

Do you have a literacy puzzle to solve?  Contact me to set up a coaching call, so we can think it through together!  The first conversation is always free!  And,  join my private FB group for immediate support from like-minded educators!

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Related posts:  To Level or Not to Level?, The Secret to Setting Up Your Library for Maximum Student Impact, Kids are Readers, Not Letters, Lesson Planning Tips That Help You Do More, Better [In Less Time]

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