8 Classroom Book Organization Ideas for Organizing Read Alouds

Books! Glorious books! While we want our kids reading a variety of great literature to themselves, there are also books we hoard to use as read alouds and mentor texts. How do we keep these books separate but also accessible? Read below to get proven classroom book organization ideas for organizing your read alouds and mentor texts.

8 Classroom Book Organization Ideas for Teachers

Below are some classroom book organization ideas for elementary teachers to use to organize their read alouds and mentor texts

1. Label All of Your Read Alouds

Make sure your name is on all of your read alouds and mentor texts. This will help your books make their way back to you when you lend them out. Consider printing labels and sticking them on the inside of the front cover or on the back cover. You can also handwrite your last name on the inside of the cover. In addition to labeling the read alouds with your name, consider printing labels for the covers to signal that they are read alouds.

2. Categorize Your Read Alouds

The second suggestion on this list of classroom book organization ideas is to categorize your read alouds. You’ll want to come up with a categorical system for organizing your read alouds and mentor texts that makes sense for how you use the books. Below are some suggestions for how to organize your read alouds:

  1. alphabetical
  2. author
  3. content area
  4. genre
  5. holiday
  6. month
  7. reading level
  8. reading strategy
  9. season
  10. theme
  11. topic
  12. unit

3. Use Organization Tools to Group Your Read Alouds

You’ll want to find the perfect containers to fit your space. Below are some tools for organizing your read alouds that you could consider using.

Storage Tubs for Thematic Units

Consider storing the picture books that go with your thematic units with those thematic units.

Magazine Files or Ice Cube Bins

This is effective if you have a smaller collection of books.


Store books in a plastic tub. You can sort the books in the tub using labeled card stock dividers.


Dedicate a shelf to read alouds. Divide them neatly with smaller containers. I have a collection of chapter books that I read each year to my third graders. Some examples are The BFG, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlotte’s Web, Frindle, Muggie Maggie, and James and the Giant Peach. I store those in a basket from Dollar Tree on a shelf out of reach.


Consider housing the mentor texts that you select to model specific writing strategies together. I organize them by the trait I use them to teach. I keep these in dishpans on a shelf out of reach. After I read a book aloud to the class, I put it into circulation in the class library. I keep them in a special basket labeled, “Mentor Texts”. Because they are viewed as “special”, they become favorites for the students to reread throughout the remainder of the year. I love that this happens because I selected them as mentor texts. This means they show quality writing and illustrations. It makes me so happy that the kids enjoy rereading them so often. At the end of the year, they all go back into their respective dishpans.

Filing Cabinets

I’m not a fan of using filing cabinets for their intended purpose of housing papers as they often get forgotten so I love that this cabinet has been repurposed to hold books.

4. Utilize Color Coding

The fourth suggestion on this list of classroom book organization ideas is to color code. Color coding is a great organization system that I use throughout my classroom. You can color code the containers that you use to hold your read alouds or even color code the books themselves with a sticker.

5. Use Clothes Pins or Clips

Using clothes pins or clips allows flexibility in labeling your baskets.

6. Create a Read Aloud Inventory

The sixth suggestion on this list of classroom book organization ideas is to create a read aloud inventory. Keep a running inventory or list of titles of books you enjoy reading aloud to the class (either thematically, seasonally, or as mentor texts) and borrow them from the library as needed each year. This saves space and money. This list could be stored on a computer or iPad to save space.

7. Catalog Your Read Aloud Books

Make a list of read alouds organized by one of the following categories: Alphabetical, author, content area, genre, holiday, month, reading level, reading strategy, season, theme, topic, and unit. Use a separate piece of paper for each different group. For example, if you choose to catalog and sort books by alphabet, then you would have 26 pieces of paper. Each piece of paper would have a letter of the alphabet on the top.

8. Track Read Aloud Books that You Lend Out

The final suggestion on this classroom book organization ideas list is to keep track of read alouds that you lend out to other people. Keeping track of books can be difficult. A student may want to borrow it for independent reading time or perhaps a colleague requests to borrow it. You never realize it wasn’t returned until you need it, which by then you forget who you lent it out to. Does this sound familiar? Try out this solution… Label all of your read aloud books with your name, the genre, and the reading strategy it lends itself to. Whenever someone asks to borrow one of the books, write down the title of the book, the name of the person you lent it to, and the date that you gave it to them. Give this a try in your classroom!

Get the Free Reading Resource Bundle

In this free reading resource bundle, you will receive:

  • a list of seasonal picture books for each month of the year
  • blank book lists for you to record your own titles
  • printable reading logs for your students
  • print and go monthly reading challenge charts
printable monthly reading logs

In closing, we hope you found these classroom book organization ideas helpful! If you did, then you may also be interested in these posts:

Read alouds and mentor texts are so important for reading to elementary students! Take a look at how I organize these books using lists and categories like comprehension strategies, genres, and other classroom organization strategies.

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