5 Tips for Organizing an ESOL Classroom Library

5 Tips for Organizing an ESOL Classroom Library

5 Tips for Organizing an ESOL Classroom Library

I love having my classroom library.  As an ESOL teacher I see students in all different settings, both in my office and in their classrooms. Having a well organized library allows me to quickly grab books to use for read alouds and help guide them towards independent reading books they will find interesting and are close to their reading levels.

I find it helpful to know the reading levels of books especially when I am looking for books to use with older ESOL students that are reading below grade level.  This allows me to show them high interest books or find books connected to topics that they are studying. I like to record the books level on the back of the book. This way students do not focus on the levels.

I put the book level on labels on the back of the books. This also helps me ID my books when they are mixed in with school owned ones.

This information is meant as a tool that I use when quickly browsing for books.  A post on the Fontus and Pinnell blog does a good job of explaining how to use book levels. A Level is a Teacher’s Tool, NOT a Child’s Label

1. Find Book Levels

I find it helpful to use more than one leveling site since they have different databases of books that they include.

Classroom Booksource
The primary way I leveled books was through the Classroom Booksource webpage (they also have an app that can scan books). You type in the ISB code and the book information comes up including book level.  The site saves the books you enter so you can keep track of them.

Scholastic Book Wizard
This site also gives book level information. You can also use it to keep track of the books you have in your library.

2. Sort By Category

The primary way that I organize my library is by category.  Some of the categories are purposeful such as math, history, or fairy tales. Others are because I have a large number of books that go together such as dinosaurs. Books go into baskets which makes it easier for students to quickly flip through them.

3. Label with Pictures

Each basket is labeled with the category and has a picture. This is helpful for my ESOL students to know what the topic is about. Get your own set of classroom library labels from my TPT store.

book labels

4. Use Baskets to Store Books

Having book baskets helps students to find books. It also make it easy to make suggestions based on a student’s interest. Many of my baskets are from the dollar store. Those are nice because of the price. I also used student book boxes for smaller for categories that I didn’t have as many books in.

Student book boxes help save space

5. Have a Checkout System

Writing down books: I give each student an index card. They write down the book title and then put a checkmark on it when they return it. I organized them by group in library pocket cards.

Each student has their own index card.

Library pocket cards to organize student checkout cards.




Online Book checkout Classroom Book Source and Scholastic Book Wizard both have online systems where you can input student names and have them use the computer or an app to electronically check out books.

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