Revitalizing a Classroom Library !

Hi! This is Wendy D. from Ms. D's Literacy Lab, and I am joining you to start a discussion on classroom libraries.  


 With less than 20 days of school left,  I am looking at my personal library books! Although it is organized and the books are well-loved, I am thinking it is time that it gets a little TLC over the summer. After all, the books have been read to dogs, stuffed in book bags, and well-loved over the last year or two---they are ready for a check-up!

If you work in a Title 1 school like I do, please consider getting a set of bilingual books for your students that experience a two language household daily. Spanish books can be purchased from Scholastic through Club Leo and many other books can be purchased through major publishers. Reading A-Z does translate many of its printable books into Spanish and French languages as well.


First step: Weed out torn, worn, books!

  • Books that have torn pages
  • Books that looked like a dog used it as a chew toy
  • Books that have been waterlogged from reading in the bathtub or a wet backpack
  • Books that have been read when eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!
  • Books that have been "read" or "illustrated" by a younger sibling

Second step: Weed out unused books!

  • Series that are no longer popular....
  • Books that are outdated...a good example--countries, view on race/cultural diversity, solar system (new research)
  • Layouts that do not grab a reader's attention... I am not advocating all graphic novels... but perhaps younger readers may enjoy the Fly Guy series versus Little Bear.
  • Ask yourself "Which ones have not moved at all this year?" If so, they are headed to other organizations who need books!  

My exception to this includes books such as Good Night Moon or Bread and Jam for Frances.

Third Step : Pull out multiple copies of a title!

  • Lots of copies....becomes a guided reading set
  • Extras may go home with students for summer reading or get donated
  • Swap books with another teacher with similar reading levels
  • Donate to your school's end of the year book swap

Fourth Step: Sort into themes, guided reading levels, or a combination of the two.

  • For younger students, I divide books into guided reading levels. If they choose a take home book at a much higher reading level, I call it... "a read with Mom and Dad book!"
  • I have a 3 tier cart from Really Good Stuff for my classroom library with Guided Reading buckets at the top with early chapter books (Levels J-N at the bottom)
  • I have not had a space for older students this year, so as I am purging I am going to clear off two shelves from a bookcase to feature their books to borrow.

Fifth Step: When sorting, you may want to label them using these goodies!

  • Sharpie Markers-- I prefer the thick black ones!
  • Avery Colored Labels--circles or another simple shape
My library is labeled with a different colored label on each guided reading book.
One color for each alphabet letter.In this way, even your Fabulous Firsties and Kindergarteners can be independent in selecting books.  Just a quick orientation at the beginning of the year and you are ready to go!

Sixth Step: Wipe off the shelves or bookcase--you're almost there!

  • Using paper towel or a handi-wipe and non toxic cleaner with little scent, I wipe down the whole cart and get the dust out-- approx. time-- 15 min max.

Seventh Step: Arrange your books!

Have fun placing them in baskets, a cart, or a small tote in the way you love! Then, cover the area with garbage bags and label so it is ready to go in the fall!

Where to Donate: Gently Worn Books

  • Goodwill
  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters
  • Used Bookstores
  • Hospitals
  • Doctor's Offices
  • Garage Sales
  • And More !

Freebies: Classroom Library checklist ---------Click Here

It is also the newest freebie in my store:

Clipart by Krista Wallden, Creative Clips on TpT


  1. Good list-- I cover any new paperback books with clear contact paper (shelf paper), so they last a little longer. I've also been able to rehab a book by covering in contact paper. Thanks for the post.

  2. Caitlin,

    Thanks for that idea ! It's a great one !

    Have a great summer !


  3. Excellent suggestions! This is a great summer project, especially if you can enlist the help of a few high school students that may need some community service time. :)
    Emily, TRT/OG

  4. Wow!! Great list of steps. I used to do this in my classroom. My steps of cleaning seem so much easier now that I travel between classes :) But I do miss all those shelves of books!