Monday, July 21, 2014

Classroom in Chaos Day One of Organizing My Classroom Library

Today I went to my classroom for a few hours before a doctor's appointment.  This was the view that greeted me from the door. 

Since my school has tile floors and little built in storage, we have to pack up everything that sits on the floor during the school year.  Which means unpacking/getting ready for the new school year takes longer for me than it did at my previous school that had built in cubbies and storage. When it comes to getting my room ready, I like to go in for a few hours at a time in July and get it done, because my husband usually takes a few days off in early August for our anniversary. :) 

Today my objective was to start organizing and purging my classroom library.   Most of my classroom library is in these six blue totes. 

When I first started teaching, I focused more on quantity of books rather than quality.  I'd go to thrift stores every payday and buy any book I thought might have a Reading Counts test. I'd also ask for gift cards to book stores at Christmas, went to a used bookstore after church each week, and sent home book orders. This certainly allowed me to accumulate A LOT of books throughout the years.  However, there are also A LOT of books that my students just simply aren't reading. 

 Donalyn Miller points out in Reading in the Wild that we should discard of books in our libraries that are:  MUSTIE;" Misleading, Ugly,Superseded, Trivial, Irrelevant or Elsewhere.

That's what I focused on today.  I started looking through my books as I was unpacking them today with MUSTIE in mind.  

This summer I want to totally revamp how my classroom library is set up.  Previously, it was by level with a separate section for popular chapter books.  Which made it really difficult for my avid readers last year to find books that interest them.
I polled last years students on how I should organize my library and they overwhelmingly chose by genre/book series.  

With my new organization method in mind, I started creating piles of related books/genre piles around my room.  I put all MUSTIE books in a big pile as well.  For me, MUSTIE books are any books I've NEVER seen a child read since I bought it, books that aren't relevant to my age group (Clifford, Franklin, Easy Readers, etc.), or in need of serious repair.  I plan on donating all MUSTIE books to a teacher who could use them. :)

Since I have so many books, it was a bit of an overwhelming task.  I was able to unpack three of my totes before I had to leave to go to the eye doctor. 

As you can see, it's quite a mess BUT this messy process is helping me weed out those MUSTIE books and giving me a good idea of what categories and genres to use when organizing my library for my students. 

After my eye doctor's appointment, I headed to Dollar Tree and Big Lots to look for possible book bins.  

Previously, I used these GLES boxes from Ikea. Which I really liked but all mine are blue and red and really don't go with my classroom color scheme, which is bright pink, blue, and green with black accents. They do come in bright green now, which could work. 

The clear bin is from Big Lots and the green and pink ones are from Dollar Tree.  I only bought one of each and will try them out in my classroom the next time I head in to see which one will work best. :)

I'll continue to check in as my room starts to come together.  

Before I go, let's chat! How do you organize your classroom library? Is it easy for you to part with books from your classroom library?


  1. We have the same floors at our school and the same requirements with packing everything up. I started to organize my library this year, but am thinking i'm definitely going to need to keep MUSTIE in my mind when I go back in a few weeks. Good luck!


  2. I bought those same dollar tree bins this week in green and purple. I am happy, but not sure what to put in them yet.
    Kovescence of the Mind

  3. I love the acronym MUSTIE. I will have to use this when I head back into my room. I love cleaning out things so going in to organize/set up is super fun for me. I know I am weird :)

  4. Right now I have my books organized by reading level but I like the genre/author/series idea. How do you plan on labeling to make sure the books get back in the correct tub? I have a few author tubs and a lot of times there is a wrong book in a tub.

  5. I'm sure the book piles are slightly overwhelming - however, I know that you'll feel SO MUCH BETTER once your books are freshly organized :) I organize my books by genre (I put dot stickers on the spine) and then I have tubs (The polka dot hole ones from the dollar store) for chapter books by popular author. My non-fiction books are in larger tubs by subject (World War 1, Great Depression, World War 2, Titanic, etc.) This system really helps the kids know where to find books - and where to put them back! It's been such a time-saver for me :)

    Joy in the Journey

  6. I've never heard of MUSTIE books (need to read that now!!), but that's a great idea! I know I have quite a few I could donate. Thanks for the idea! Decluttering will be refreshing! And I also need to go to Dollar Tree. Those baskets would match my class perfectly!!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

  7. I sort my book by genre, series, or author. I use stickers to help students remember where a book goes. I use both the pink and green baskets. They work well for chapter books. I have a hard time getting rid of books. I keep thinking that one day a student will pick it up and read it. I did go through some of my books at the end of the year and gave them to a new teacher.

  8. I am in the same boat as Karen H. I have a hard time getting rid of any books because I think there might be that one kid out there who might pick it up and love it. I know though that I have many that I should cull from my library.

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