4 Areas: Green for chapter books and award winners, yellow for fiction and poetry, blue for informational and author studies, and red for nonfiction/content areas.
How I Organize My Books
1) Mimicking Real-Life- When I go into Barnes and Noble, Borders, Davis-Kidds, etc. I don't usually go in and ask for the 4.3 reader's section. Books, in real-life, are organized by interest/content/topic. Click below for PDF versions of some of our labels. I printed them with Print Shop 21, and then laminated them before using small, clear clips to keep them in place. I tried to take real-life photos for each theme (e.g. for our school theme, we have a real picture of our school).
2) Leveling Books- With that said, I have gone out of my way to put at least 2 different leveling systems on each book. There are two stickers on each book. The front of the book has a small, clear mailing sticker that states the title, color bin, and level. On the back is a simple typed sticker that indicates bin color and bin location (color of font indicates 1 of 4 color themed areas).
*My actual labels are clear but would not photograph*
3) Being Aware of Different Leveling Systems- I prefer, strongly, Fountas and Pinnell leveling as I believe it is the most balanced. I have researched all the leveling systems and have found that Accelerated Reader and Hirsch methods to be the most basic. Leveling is really a rough gage, and with my last job as a literacy coach where I organized and leveled thousands of books, I am quite confident with being able to give a strong estimate on text/theme difficulty. Click below for text features that help determine a quick gage on level:
4) Access to Rich Literature- Research suggests a classroom library should contain 2/3 nonfiction with 1/3 of that being informational. Richard Allington suggests having a classroom library with 750-1,500 books in the classroom. And I believe there is a difference between a Disney book and Cynthia Rylant or Lester Laminack. I try my very best to provide the richest literature on the market. I visit the bookstore weekly and read suggestions from my favorite authors, such as Katie Wood Ray and Ralph Fletcher.
5) Keeping Up-I use the Intelliscanner system for finding books and book suggestions from our classroom library. This system is great because you can not only search for books like a public library, but the photo cover comes up, year of publication, number of pages, etc. I just add the leveling, location, and comments from author suggestions for use of the book (e.g. great book for teaching inferences). You can even scan books in and out of the program using the ISBN code on the book.