Hey friends! I want to preference this post by saying these are my opinions. There is probably research out there to contradict what I do as well as support what I do. Please do not take this post as this is the 'right' way. Just some things to ponder over ;)
So you've all seen those pictures on blogs, Pinterest, etc - of those AMAZINGLY beautiful classroom libraries. Not a book out of place, color matching book containers, and newly placed labels gracing the front of each bin. Makes me DROOL!! Grab your tissue now - drool zone ahead!
Beautiful isn't it!? Yeah - that's NOT my classroom! That would be the amazing Reagan Tunstall's classroom. My classroom, yeah, it doesn't look like that. The bins are broken, they are mismatched (not my choice - because my budget doesn't allow me to buy new ones), and there are books crooked and laying on top of other books. Do I WANT it to be like that? No, but the reality of it is - that's what it has to be and that's what it becomes due to the fact that I don't level my library. There are many reasons why I don't level mine. Again, there are pros and cons to both ways - I'm just sharing my thoughts ;)
You've all heard of the 'walk of shame' right? When a student gets in trouble and they have to walk over to move their clip on the clip chart or flip their card, or whatever the system might be. It's embarrassing. Have you ever thought of that or those students who are always having to pick from the 'lower' book bins? Let's face it. The students KNOW what the levels mean. Whether we do A, B, C or Lexiles, or levels like 1.0 - 2.0, etc. They figure it out. How would you like it if you were the child who always was picking from those lower bins? The other students would look at you and wonder why and YOU would look at them and wonder why... As minimal as it may seem, I don't want there to be any doubt in my students' reading abilities. I want them not to have any type of book segregation that may come about due to my organizational need to level my book. Now - do I have the level on them somewhere physically on the book? Yes! Inside the front cover only where the student opening the book could see.
There are natural categories to books and I want my students to experience those categories. So when I organize my books, I do them all by genre. This then allows the students to understand similarities between books without me even having to 'teach' the genres themselves. Now, I do obviously teach genres - but you would be amazed at how quickly the students understand genres when they are choosing them and understanding them on their own without me giving them the specifics of each category.
Not leveling my books allows my students to SEE what other books are out there that are not technically on or in their level/range. If I have my books leveled and they are told to keep to that specific level(s) then they don't get to see the other books that are out there. Seeing books that aren't on their level gives them something to look forward to. A motivational tact if you would. I've had MANY conversations with students about 'I can't WAIT to read this book! I'm going to get there Mrs. Harris!" And that's all because as they were searching through the various levels of books, they were able to see books at all different levels. I also think this is good for their understand of the different types of books - picture, chapter, etc.
That's basically it. Like I said, these are just my thoughts and opinions. There may be logic to them or it just may be my crazy way of thinking but hopefully I gave you something to think about :) I'd love to hear what you do to organize your classroom library!!