Storing and Organizing Take-Home Reading Books

Do you send home books for students to read at home?  I know there are so many different thoughts out there regarding "homework".  I am a firm believer in reading anywhere and as often as possible.  For this reason, I send home a reading bag with one to three books each week.  It depends on the time of year and the needs of each student, really.  For the take-home bags, I choose books for students.  In the classroom, for the quiet reading time bags, I let the kids choose.  Believe it or not, they actually enjoy the surprise aspect of not knowing what they are going to get in their bag.  After spring break, in combination with the books I choose for them to read, I allow students to start taking home an Elephant and Piggie book that they choose on their own.  Again, it changes throughout the year. 

I mostly use printable books from Reading A-Z, but I have been supplementing a little with Tara West's fiction and non-fiction readers, lately.  My students adore Tara's books

Reading A-Z book in level AA
For the past two school years, these books have lived in my home office.  I collect books in the classroom each Friday morning and swap the books every Sunday afternoon.  As of the 2018-19 school year, *gulp*, they are going to live in my classroom.  This is a BIG step for me, in terms of making more time for my family.  I am tired of spending weekend time dealing with book bags I will now have to take care of these bags on Friday (or Monday morning before school).  Again, this is a b-i-g step for me.

In order to pull this off, I needed the books to be super organized.  I was organized before...sort of.  Each level lived in a plastic shoe box from Dollar Tree.  The books were grouped together by title so I could find them somewhat quickly.  It worked for me, but I knew there had to be a way that would make this process go even faster for me. An example of the old shoe box method can be seen below.

Does this make you as nervous as it makes me?  It almost fell off the chair while snapping this picture.  Yikes.
Now all of the books live in two drawers of my file cabinets that will soon be moved into the classroom.  I was so shocked that they only took up two drawers!  The drawers I chose to use are side-by-side, rather than stacked on top of one another.  This is because this particular drawer level is easy for me to see and access books.  I will open up both drawers, quickly grab what I need, log it in each student's reading bag spreadsheet, and move on with my life.  I was able to fit two book titles per hanging file, which saved a ton of space. 

Side-by-side file drawers of organized books. *bliss*
I believe this side-by-side drawer thing will also make putting the old books away much faster. Also, I am hoping now that the books are in an order that moves from front to back within each file drawer...I can eliminate tracking which books have been read in a spreadsheet.  I will give the spreadsheet one more year. It does work for me, but I would not mind ditching that step in the process.  Oh, and the titles are in order of how I typically begin handing out books for each level (not alphabetical).  I think this will help with tracking the books I hand out.

Okay, so you might be wondering how much of my time this has taken.  The books were already printed. That took the most time.  It took me two school years to make my collection.  I bought the hanging files at Goodwill for super, super cheap. I have been collecting those for a while.  As for the file tabs, I have been working on typing the titles and printing tabs for a couple of and there...on and off.  Yes, I made a file tab for each book title.  Yes, I made file tabs for each book level in hopes those bright pink tabs will help my eyes see each level quickly.  Yes, I might have lost my mind and spent nearly $50.00 in file tabs.  However, if this will make my weekend life book bag free...BRING IT!  The book bag system I use works for me and for families.  I simply need to switching out process to not be in my house and be organized enough that I can move through the process faster.

I would love to hear what you are organizing over summer break!  Leave me a comment or find me on Instagram or Pinterest.  :)