This week I spent most of a “day off” in school sorting through the books that had been labeled and logged and organizing them into color coded baskets – red for fiction, green for nonfiction, blue for poetry and yellow for special collections. Using both the small nesting baskets from Really Good Stuff and the stackable medium bins has been a good thing. And the shelves are beginning to look like something other than the mishmash that had been. At this point, I have finished the most tedious leveling – those 500+ books that had not been leveled at all – and I am sorting through the baskets in of previously leveld books. Will need to weed out used and otherwise unattractive books.
I hate the feel of books that have been sitting on the shelf – in the warm sun and near the blowers for the heating system in the classroom. They feel dusty, the paper pages feel rough and uncomfortable and often the covers are worn or brittle. These are the books that I’ve been recycling rather aggressively. Those that belong to the school and were purchased with school funds (Title I, building budget, etc.) are shared with colleagues who need to bulk up their own classroom library or with the Lincoln Lenders. The later is a collection of books for our students to swap – something that happens about once each month. Bring a book to trade and get one in return. It works quite well and more and more children are able to have a book of their own.
A side-activity to the classroom library sorting is that I have been classifying my own teacher collection of trade books – you know, the books that drive a minilesson or those that are used to jump start a writing lesson. By freeing up all those cardboard magazine files, I’ve been able to sort my “special” collection by writing topic (narratives, letter writing) and by mini lesson. I’ve also organized the author collections that have accumulated over the last ten years of my teaching.
The room is starting to feel organized — and I feel as if I’ve got a handle on what books are available to my students. It is tedious and hard work, but I believe it will be worth it in the end. If there is an end!