Making Books Convenient for Kids

By Brent Vasicek on August 11, 2010
  • Grades: 3–5

The other day I was at a restaurant. I only wanted an iced tea. That’s it. I wasn’t hungry for anything. Nada. The waitress brings me the iced tea and some chips and salsa for the table. Wouldn’t you know, I ate half the basket of chips even though I didn’t want them? Books are just like those chips: Kids will eat ’em up if you make them convenient.

So how do you make books convenient and appealing? I have a few suggestions that will work in classrooms for any grade!



Have an organized variety of genres and topics available.

Organize the books in bins that match the genre. I place a color coded sticker on the front cover of the book that matches the color coded sticker of the bin. This allows for an organized and efficient library.

Brent Bucket Shot


Have a range of reading levels available.

It is critically important to meet the needs of diverse learners. I focus my classroom library range on one grade level above and one grade level below the grade I am teaching (for example, 3rd–5th is where I focus when I am teaching 4th grade).  I write the approximate reading level on the cover for easy identification. I teach students to use this as a guide, but not an absolute determination as to whether the book is right for them. Use the BookAlike search tool to find books on, above, or below a certain grade level. For instance, here's a list of books with a 3–5 Grade Interest Level that are one grade level easier than Margaret Peterson Haddix's Among the Enemy.

Put books on display.

I put several books in a magazine rack display. This allows the cover of the books to catch students’ eyes. It is how the advertisers do it in the checkout at the grocery store. It works for kids, too. Keep it fresh by frequently changing the books that get their covers displayed.

Brent wire library


One idea I have not utilized myself, but that seems pretty cool, is the use of rain gutters to display books in the classroom. The covers of the books can be easily presented when placed in the rain gutter.

Feature books.

If a student seems excited after finishing a book, have them say a few words about it to the class. A rave review from a peer often sells a book better than any commercial I could do. Students may be interested in looking at one of these Scholastic Book Talk Videos for ideas about how to present their book.

Have an easy book check-in/check-out procedure.

I simply have the students write down their name, the book title, author, and date on a clipboard that I keep by the library. Next to the clipboard is the turn in bin. When a child is done with a book, they put it in the bin. One very reliable student is assigned the job of putting the book back into the library and highlighting the book on the clipboard to show it has been returned. Do I lose a few books each year? Yes. But the time I save myself by not having a complicated system is worth the few books that are not returned.

Include picture books in the library.

After I use a picture book to teach a lesson, I put it in the library. This can serve as a reference when students forget a concept or need some writing inspiration.

Brent First Day Jitters


For those of you with a nice start up budget, there is a wonderfully organized 100 book library you can purchase, the Phyllis C. Hunter Library. It comes with stickers and bins!

Here are a few other articles with good ideas:

That’s a wrap!


Director Vasicek


Additional Resources


I love this post, and the chips and salsa analogy is great too! I blog about creating print-rich environments at home, and a lot of what you've talked about here would work in the home as well. Thanks!

Erin, Great point. Reading is an activity that should be encouraged as much at home as it is at school. A united front between home and school is what makes the most successful students. ~Brent

Brent, I like that you include picture books in your library, even at intermediate levels.

One way that "market" books is to have book talks. Students love to hear about a book that others already read and enjoyed.

Mary, I completely agree. Thank you for chiming in. ~Brent

True, Brent! "Marketing their curriculum..." I love that. That would make a REALLY neat blog post. If I ever post about it, I will give you the credit.

Victoria, Maybe all new teachers should take a course in advertising. It could really help spruce up some lessons. Happy blogging! ~Brent

I enjoyed listening to and reading your explanation about the library. Over the years, I have acquired some display racks for free or very cheap. I am grateful to have the opportunity to display books in different ways and organize the books in genres as well.

Victoria, Thank you. It really is quite interesting that the way you package or display something can really sell a lesson in the classroom. Good teachers have to be really good at marketing their curriculum. ~Brent

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