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The Power of a Great Classroom Library

Kids who have access to great books become readers. There is simply nothing that makes teaching reading easier, that gets kids reading with tremendous volume, or that lifts reading skills higher than a collection of truly fabulous books.

The Reading & Writing Project has developed state-of-the-art classroom libraries for each grade level, K–8. Curated by Lucy Calkins and colleagues along with a team of literacy leaders and children’s literature experts, these libraries contain 400–700 leveled books at each grade level—all organized into collections and shelves based on level, genre, topic, and available in versions for students reading both at and below benchmark.

About the Classroom Libraries

As the team worked to develop these libraries, several key ideas guided the selection process:

Classroom Library KidsClassroom Libraries Sticky NoteClassroom Libraries

A Note About the Middle School Upper-Grade Libraries: Please know that the titles in the Classroom Libraries were evaluated and recommended by educators and librarians from across the country and around the world, and reviewed and vetted by the country’s leading experts in children’s literacy and literature. Titles were chosen for their high-interest topics, rich literary qualities, and strong potential to develop critical thinking.

Because the upper-grades libraries include many contemporary YA titles, some of the fiction titles contain very strong language, themes involving death, coming of age (including sexual themes), peer pressure, and similar mature content. We believe the literary merit of these titles warrants their inclusion in our libraries. To ensure your students are exploring content that matches what you understand to be their social and emotional development, you may wish to review titles before introducing them to students. Please note that substitute titles are not available.

Please note: These classroom Libraries are not available for sale or distribution outside of the U.S.


For more information, download the Classroom Libraries catalog.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following videos and links to other resources contain responses from Lucy and her colleagues addressing key frequently asked questions. Watch the videos below to see what Lucy has to say about these special libraries and learn how best to use the libraries to create successful, lifelong readers.


Curation Process

Meeting the Needs of All Learners

Reading Levels

Download the Shelf-by-Shelf Reading Levels, K-8
Download the Additional Shelf Reading Levels

Tools for Management and Student Engagement

Tips for Building Your Library

Choosing Library Shelves: Starting Points, What to Consider Next, and Shelves Aligned to Units of Study

Tools and Resources

Included with each complete library or available for separate purchase (with a minimum of two Individual Library Shelves) are box sets of Tools and Resources. These invaluable resources will help you use your library more effectively to lift the level of student achievement and engage kids.

Each grade-level Tools and Resources pack includes:

A Guide to the Classroom Libraries
A Guide to the Classroom Libraries

In the Guide, you’ll find detailed discussions on topics including:

  • The research base for the development of the Classroom Libraries
  • Ways to set up, introduce, and manage your library
  • The content of “shelves,” how books were selected, and how they can be used in various instructional contexts
  • Assessment, leveling of books, and matching books to readers
  • Teaching methods for reading aloud, independent reading, conferring and small-group work, partnerships, and book clubs
Classroom Libraries Book Level Labels
Book Level Labels

The Tools and Resources pack includes miniature level labels designed to match the illustrated level bin cards. Reshelving of books then becomes a job that students can take on as part of their book shopping routines or you might specifically assign a team of “classroom librarians” or “bibliographers” to head up this aspect of library maintenance.

Book Bin Label Cards
Book Bin Label Cards

Book Bin Label Cards help teachers arrange and categorize books by reading levels and also in a variety of other ways that support teaching and learning.

Once readers have learned to select books that are within reach, teachers won’t want their baskets to be titled with levels only. Students will be drawn to select books from baskets with labels such as “Kids in Charge,” stuffed with books like The Stories Julian Tells, Flat Stanley, and Judy Moody. If kids like a book in a basket labeled “Misunderstood,” they’ll probably read the whole basket. By choosing just one book, kids will not only get more reading done—they’ll be drawn into the deeper reading and cross-text thinking they’ll be asked to do throughout the reading workshop

Sticky-Note Pads
Sticky-Note Pads

A collection of Sticky-Note Pads supports students as they read and think, acting as lenses to promote close, active reading. The Sticky Notes support a variety of reading strategies and help kids read with extra alertness, jotting details, noticing things they wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Readers will use Sticky Notes as a “quick jot” to flag favorites and call out “must-reads” for others, or most importantly, as a way to remind themselves to return to certain pages during their partner conversations to support their thinking, talking, and writing about the book. Readers will also decide to leave some of the Sticky Notes in a book as tips for future readers.

Reading-Level Ranges...

Download the Shelf-by-Shelf Reading Levels, K-8

Download the Additional Shelf Reading Levels