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Level Your Classroom Library for Reading Workshop

By Beth Newingham on July 13, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

Students need to be reading at their “just right” level during the independent reading block of Reading Workshop, so they need to be able to locate appropriate books without spending hours browsing the library. This means it is important to level at least part of your library.

As students develop strong interests in literature, it is also important that your classroom library is organized in a way that they can easily find their favorite series books, favorite genres, and specific topics without having to search for extended periods of time.

When I feel a child is ready to move to a new level (or when a child feels that he or she is ready to move up to a new level), the student completes what I call a "trial read." The student reads a chapter book at the new level and fills out a Trial Book form. When he or she finishes the book, I then meet with that child to discuss the book and assess his or her comprehension of the text.

Comments (6)

Hi Beth,

I've been enjoying your sites and borrowed lots of ideas. I used to be able to get labels for the book baskets and your genre posters. For some reason, I cannot get that site. I was just wondering whether you stopped them or I just can't get them because I'm accessing it from outside of the US?

Are there any other places that you have them online?

Hi, Beth!
My teaching partner and I are interested in beginning Reading Workshop in our classroom this year. Our district uses Houghton-Mifflin, but this would be our first year leaving most of this behind. We have always done guided reading in our classroom, but are concerned about what pencil and paper tests kids get in this format. Do you ever formally test your students? What do you use?
Also, for some reason, today I cannot access your personal blog or any of the links provided in these posts. It says, "Invalid Path: The requested URl was not found on this server."
Thanks for your help!!! We have used so many of your tips and freebies over the years and are so thankful for you!

Hello, Beth!
I had trouble accessing your personal blog today. Every time I click on a link to it, it "Invalid Path: The requested URL was not found on this server." I have never had trouble getting to it before. :) My teaching partner and I are incredibly thankful for all the tips and freebies we have gotten from you there and here. Thank you so much!!!

Hello, I love your labels. Thank you so much. Question Where did you get your fonts and clip art. I love the font with the dots.


After doing a new theme for 7 years in a row, I have decided to begin recycling my themes. My basement is full of bins filled with the thematic decorations and materials I use each year, so continuing to add more themes and spend more money did not seem like a good use of time or money. My teaching partner and I are going to do the Planet 13 (outer space) theme again this year. It was a fun one that the students really loved! Good luck picking a theme for your classroom!!

-Beth Newingham

Hi, Beth. Thanks so much for this blog.My classroom IS set up but always helpful to see what others do. Have you decided on a theme for this year?

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