Build a classroom library that your kids will love
Independent Reading, Library

Build a classroom library that your kids will love

November 21, 2015 0

If you grew up like me, then your school library was split between fiction and nonfiction and organized by the Dewey Decimal System or alphabetically by author’s last name. And you never used it. Ever. Unless you were being forced to do research for a “country report.” The library smelled weird. The librarian looked weird. The books were weird…You get the picture. The old school library was unappealing.

school library

This is how I remember the library at my elementary school. It was hard to use.

On the other hand, Rob and I have a classroom library that entices kids to read. As you enter our classroom, your eye falls upon the back wall, which is lined with twenty feet of book shelves, filled with a couple thousand books. The book spines face out and immediately the titles and designs jump out at you.

library when you enter the room

A classroom library should be visually appealing.

Upon closer inspection (because who can resist?) you see that we have complete series of some of the most popular teen fiction — Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Maximum Ride, Fablehaven – and multiple copies of each book within the series. Check out the first book in a series, get hooked, and you can be guaranteed that the next book will be available.

library organized by series

The books in our classroom library are organized by series.

Take a step back and you notice that the library is split in half between fantasy fiction and realistic fiction and the easiest series are on the bottom and the hardest are on the top. Simple and appealing for kids, and a wonderful teaching tool for literacy teachers.

library organized by genre

They’re also organized by genre. Realistic fiction on the left; Fantasy fiction is on the right.


Our classroom library reached this stage in two years, but if we had known what we were doing, we could have had a functioning library in a matter of weeks for a surprisingly small amount of money. Now we know exactly what books to buy and the cheapest sources. Many of the books pictured were bought for $1. If you’re starting a library from scratch, here are a couple tips:

  • Review your reading level data and find a series that accommodates a handful of your readers.
  • Buy two copies of each book in the series. Ideally, three of the first book. When kids know their friends are reading the same book, they’re more invested.
  • Selectively lend the books out to kids who would benefit from reading more books on the level of the series.


Drop us a line at matt@growingreadersdc.com or rob@growingreadersdc.com for more information on the best books to buy, the cheapest ways to buy books and how to organize your library. We can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars by buying through our sources.

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