Sunday, September 19, 2010

Book Rooms

Many teachers wish to have every book for every unit of study within their grasp and within their closets in their rooms.  But, the reality is, budgets do not permit this.  However, if we share books with colleagues on our grades and among all the grade levels in our school, we can have all the books we need within our grasp at just the moment we need them.

Most schools create book rooms to organize and store materials that teachers can check out and return on an as needed basis.  Schools may decide to have a book room party on a few lunches or evenings to get the room started, label baskets, level books, and arrange shelving.  Then, it is often the case that coaches or a different grade level each month maintains the upkeep of the room.  Most schools also enlist the help of a few parent volunteers to sort and level new books and perhaps to even stop by classrooms to gather books that can go back into the book room.  Special thanks for this post go to coaches Gina and Belinda, as well as the administrators and teachers at OWNCS in Astoria, Queens for organizing this ever-evolving book room for us to see.

To get started, you may want to have some of the following sections:

  • Emergent Story Books
    • 8-10 copies of each title for each Kindergarten classroom.  The photo above is from the OWNCS book room.  The pink labeled baskets are the emergent story books.  This school has three kindergarten classrooms.  Each title has a basket and there are about 18-20 copies of each title.
  • Big Books and Small Copies to Match
  • Above:  The bog books and the corresponding small copies to match each book hang in a small area of the OWNCS book room.
  • Non-Fiction Books
    • Leveled non-fiction topic baskets.  Survey the kids to find out their interests and also shop for books that will match content area teaching.  Some popular baskets are transportation, bugs, sports, birds, sharks, trees, solar system, and human body.
    • The photo above from the OWNCS book room shows topic baskets and the levels for the books in the bin.
  • Character Club books for grades K-2 on levels A-N.
  • Above:  Three of the character bins at OWNCS in Astoria, Queens.  Note the main character as well as the level is labeled on the bucket.  This school has 3 classes on a grade and so coaches ordered 6-8 copies of each title in the bucket.  
    Above:  The character shelves of bins in the OWNCS book room.  Three of the bins are in the photo above, but this photo shows the variety of titles and characters spanning levels A-N for grades K-2.  
    • At least 2 copies of each title for each classroom that will be doing this unit at the same time.  For example, if you have 3 first grade classrooms studying in the character reading club reading unit, you'll want 6 copies of each title. 
  • Book Club Books for Grades 3-5 or 3-8
    • You will want to have books to match the genres and content areas you are teaching.  Some favorites at other schools include mystery, historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and social issues.  The shelf pictured above from OWNCS is just one of three whole book shelves devoted to book club books for the students in grades 3-5.  
  • Character focussed books for grades 3-5 or 3-8 on levels K-Z.
    • At least 2 copies of each title for each classroom that will be doing this unit at the same time.
    • Note:  You can use some of the lower level books for 3-5 students reading at lower levels.
  • Guided Reading books or short text to support readers as they make the move (with our support) from one level to the next.

For more support with Book Rooms and shopping for books see the following sources:

What Really Matters for Struggling Readers by Richard Allington

Units of Study for Teaching Reading by Lucy Calkins and Kathleen Tolan


  1. Silly question, but where did you get those baskets with the cup holders? Love them!!!

    Just found your blog - fabulous information. With the holidays around the corner, I'll have time to soak it in.

  2. Hi Mary,
    Are you referring to the baskets on the writing center post? The teacher in that classroom purchased those baskets with the cup holders at Lakeshore. Hope you find exactly what you need to keep your writing center organized and the kids independent during work time.

  3. Where did you get the blue bins with the white handles in this post?