Reading volume matters. Whether it’s through read aloud, read-to-self or independent reading, listening to read, or core texts – our classrooms and schools should be filled with books. These books go home, they are housed in school libraries, and can be found on classroom shelves in book bins. With diverse needs and classrooms, book bin alternatives matter.
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Book Bins: Factors to Consider
So, how do we store students’ individual book choices? What are the different options? Each classroom, teacher, student body is different. We all have different budgets, sized-classrooms, and needs. Our student book bins need to fit our own space.
- How many students do I have?
- Where will they be stored?
- What spaces in our classroom can be leveraged?
- How much am I willing to invest?
- Are there items on our class supply list that can be used for storage?
- What is important to me – personalization, durability, space, etc?
Traditional Plastic Book Bins
Traditional plastic book bins are great for durability (lasting year to year). Buying a set is typically a significant financial investment and then, I plan on replacing 4-5 a summer due to dropped or mistreated book bins. Using glue dots or hot glue, these bins are perfect for attaching labels or students names. (Snag these classroom library labels here.)
Whether from Ikea or Amazon, cardboard magazine holders offer an inexpensive way to store student books, as well as, offer students the chance to personalize their bins. From sticks to art to favorite quotes from books, these bins can be a living document of how students change over the course of the school year. Looking to make the bins more durable? Line all the edges with white duct tape or clear packing tape.
Like the traditional plastic book bins, these files will definitely take up more space. For a cramped or poorly shelved room, this might not work.
From magazine files, we land at paper folders. Easily the least expensive option, paper folders make great holders for paperback books. (Note – If you have a large collection of hardback books, you may want to consider something else.) Students label one side “Read” and the other side “To Be Read”. They are simple to store in a backpack or desk, easily transported from home to school, no-big-deal to replace, and can store 6-8 books without a problem! Plus, up your organization game and color-code students’ folders based on needs, reading rotations, interests, etc.
Just like our take-home book bags, student book bags can actually be plastic bags! Plastic zip bags are also an inexpensive alternative. (I prefer the zip to the snap bags for durability, but either works.) They offer plenty of space, are easy to replaces, and can simply be reenforced with clear packing tape. Before distributing to students, line all three edges to packing tap to keep them useable for a little longer.
Additionally, these plastic bags are flexible enough to be stored in desks, in table baskets, or in student backpacks.
Similar to plastic bags, canvas bags are easy to store in small places, easily transported, YET considerably more durable. If considered using canvas or fabric bags, you’ll want to add a Scotch Guard or Waterproof Spray to the bags, so they can be easily cleaned or washed. Additionally, you may want to think about bed bugs and lives – this matters in some schools more than others. At the end of each quarter, semester, or summer – these bags can easily be thrown in the washer to get them ready for a new set of users.
Book Bins: Wrapping-Up
Having a variety of book bins options at your finger tips allows us, as teachers, to be flexible. We can meet the needs of our classroom, learners, and schools as they grow and change. Do you have other student book bin alternatives? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
To read more about independent reading, classroom organization, and classrooms libraries – check out these posts.
- Building Your Classroom Library
- Structuring Take-Home Book Bags
- Launching Read to Self
- Classroom Organization Tips
- Primary Classroom Library Labels
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