How to Create an Effective Classroom Library

Young student placing a book in the classroom library.

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The greatest contribution that you as a teacher can make to the educational success of your students is to help them become proficient readers. You can do this by providing them with a classroom library. A classroom library will give them the easy access they need to read. A well-stocked, organized library will show students that you value books as well as value their education.

How Your Library Should Function

While your first thought of a classroom library may be a cozy little place in the corner of the room where students go to read quietly, you are only partially correct. While it is all of those things, it is also much more.

An effectively designed classroom library should support reading inside and outside of school, help students learn about how to select appropriate reading materials, and provide a place for students to read independently, as well as serve as a place to talk and discuss books. Let's dive into these functions a little bit further.

This space should support learning both inside and outside of the classroom. It should include both fiction and nonfiction books that have different reading levels. It should also accommodate the different interests and abilities of all students. These books will be checked out by and taken home with students.

A classroom library is a place where your students can learn about books. They can experience a variety of book genres and other reading materials like newspapers, comics, magazines, and more in a controlled, small environment. You can use your classroom library to teach students how to select books as well as how to take care of books.

The third purpose a classroom library should have is to provide children with the opportunity to read independently. It should be used as a resource to support daily reading where students can self-select books that meet their interests.

How to Make a Classroom Library

The first thing that you will want to do when building your classroom library is to get books, a lot of books. You can do this by going to a garage sale, joining a book club like Scholastic, soliciting donations from, or asking parents to donate. Once you have your books, follow these steps to build your library.

  1. Choose an open corner in your classroom where you can fit bookcases, a carpet, and a comfy chair or love seat. Choose leather or vinyl over fabric because it's easier to keep clean and it doesn't carry as many germs.
  2. Combine your books into categories and color code the different reading levels. Categories may include subjects like animals, fiction, non-fiction, mystery, folktales, etc.
  3. Label every book that belongs to you. The easiest way to do this is to get a stamp and stamp the inside cover with your name on it.
  4. Create a check-out and return system for when students want to bring a book home. Students should sign a book out by writing down the title, author, and which bin they got the book from. Then, they should return it by the end of the following week.
  5. When students return books, you must show them how to put the book back where they found it. You even assign a student the job as the book master. This person will collect the returned books from the bin every Friday and place them back in the correct bin.

Make sure that you have strict consequences if books are misplaced or mistreated. For example, if someone forgot to return their book by the due date, then they may not choose another book the following week to take home.


  • "Home." Donors Choose, 2000.
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Your Citation
Cox, Janelle. "How to Create an Effective Classroom Library." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Cox, Janelle. (2023, April 5). How to Create an Effective Classroom Library. Retrieved from Cox, Janelle. "How to Create an Effective Classroom Library." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).