Labeling My AR Books

Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas for using the AR Book Widget to level your elementary classroom library books! The AR Widget Code for your web site or blog is available for download on this post.
Labeling My AR Books
This blog post is not for those of you that are looking for a cute, artsy, adorable way to label your AR Books! Run now and run fast if you are looking for thematic, high graphic stickers! :)
So, I'm teasing you, but I've been around the block a time or two and let's face it, our classroom libraries will never look as adorable as what we see on OTHER TEACHER'S BLOGS!
Oh yeah, you know what I mean, some teachers have made entire Pinterest Boards with all sorts of cute "Teacher Library" pictures! But, I'm going to let you in on a secret, I bet their kids never get to use many of those classroom library books!
There Are Lovers of Books and 
There Are Keepers of Books.
I am a ♥lover♥ of books!
I have no desire to hoard books, or to be a "Keeper of Books." I want my students to love reading so much that they can't wait to get their hands on more and more books. I have left teaching a few times ~ twice to be a stay at home mom and once to go to real estate school {stop laughing!} and every time I leave I GIVE everything away ~ I know, DUH!! right?

So when I return to the classroom this year I had to start all over again. I've built a nice classroom library from garage sales and the Friends of the Library big sales. But this year I only taught Math and Science, so I didn't really need to spend time organizing the library. The books were just hanging out for the children who came to school early, while I watched them for morning duty.
I DO NOT do any difficult check out system for my library. 
Check out systems usually just exhaust the teachers and cause them more unneeded stress! :( If a book is too expensive, don't put it in your library.

I let every child take 2 books home each night. I tell them, over and over again, "I trust you. Just tell me the truth if something happens to it." It helps to build a relationship between myself and the child, especially at lower income schools where many of them don't have a lot of trust in their lives anyway. I might have lost a book or two over the years, but if their lives are that sad that they need to steal my book, their lives are that sad that they are welcome to keep my book! That's why I get my books for a quarter to a dollar at the sales, nothing too expense that I will be upset if they don't return it! :)
This next school year we are going to be self-contained again and I will be teaching Reading again, which I love!
So everyday after summer school I've been organizing my library to get ready. 
Here is how I label my books ~
I write my name, the AR level and the test number in Sharpie Marker on the front.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas for using the AR Book Widget to level your elementary classroom library books! The AR Widget Code for your web site or blog is available for download on this post.
  There are a few reasons why I do this ~
1. Marker, unlike labels, can't be pulled off by a student. If they leave it in the Computer Lab or cafeteria, "Smith" gets it returned to my class or mailbox.
2. When a child takes an AR quiz, sometimes it takes them the entire Daily Five Center time to find the quiz if they are typing the title incorrectly. I teach them just to type in the test number.
In this picture, which shows off my amazing photography skills, it would be 11506 and the top picture would be 87265. The students can type the number in fast and usually leaves less room for a mistake.
3. They can immediately know if it is their level. There is no color chart that they have to match with a sticker on the cover. There is no need to open the book to figure it out. They can also file the book away quickly when they are done by reading level because it is right on the front.
4. Student helpers can also clean up and organize the library quickly with the number right on the front! 

 On my class web site I have the AR BookFinder Widget so I can find the information out quickly about a new book I bring to the classroom.
 Here is what it looks like...
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas for using the AR Book Widget to level your elementary classroom library books! The AR Widget Code for your web site or blog is available for download on this post.
 And here is the code if you would like to put it on your site.

I also like this because the parents and students can use it at home to find a book level!
This is what the results look like...
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas for using the AR Book Widget to level your elementary classroom library books! The AR Widget Code for your web site or blog is available for download on this post.
 If it is not an AR book, here is another site that will help you will leveling books.
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas for using the AR Book Widget to level your elementary classroom library books! The AR Widget Code for your web site or blog is available for download on this post.
 Book Wizard
So if you are organizing your books this summer,
I hope a little of this info might have helped! :)
If you haven't read it yet, here is how I organize my read alouds!

I would just ♥love it if 
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  1. I LOVE your "realness" Mrs. Smith!!! Your labeling system makes perfect sense to me and thanks so much for sharing the idea about putting the test number on the book. I NEVER thought of that!!!! It will be so much easier for my little ones:) I just started my own blog and am currently hosting a picture book giveaway (six great titles for your library), I am your newest follower and would for you to follow me:) Come visit

    1. I'm your newest follower, thanks for the comment & good luck with your new school and new kinders!
      Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas!
      Fern Smith’s Pinterest Boards!

  2. Fern, I have written on my books for years in just the same way. My kids are usually shockec when I tell them to just get a sharpie and write the quiz number on the cover :) The only stickers I put on my books are some that I made that match my book basket labels. I place stickers on the back that say what color basket and have a picture of the basket's label so the kiddos can return books easily. I also don't do a check out system...I agree with you totally!!!


  3. I'm so excited to find someone with the same philosophy and labeling system when it comes to books! I've done it this way for years and love it!

  4. I SO SO agree with you all. I started putting stickers on books and quickly switched to writing book level and points on the front cover. I love the idea of the test number, so I will be adding them as the year goes, especially for those books that you have to hunt for the title, you know the ones 'Do I put National Geographic: " before the rest of the title? I do have a round colored sticker with a number that matches the tub where the book belongs. I don't even group my books by reading level or genre. I just add to the tub until it is full then get another tub, color, and number. That way kids browse through all kinds of books. Works for me! Thanks for the ideas.

    1. I love the sticker matching the bucket...Since I teach Math and Science I keep trying to think of a way to "improve" my library because I only use it to loan books and indoor rainy recess, I really liked it before when the buckets were mixed and I could just spread the buckets around the room....thanks for a great idea!

  5. What you describe is similar to how I label A.R. books; A.R. levels and test number sare on the front of each book. If levels are written inside books, it wastes potential student reading time and causes extra wear on the books as they are continuously opened and closed as children look at range levels. In addition, it's MUCH EASIER when students type the # rather than the title. Our levels are categorized by rainbow colors, too, with red stickers on the spine for 1st grade, etc. I do type the level/test number on labels and apply the labell to the top right hand corner (and cover with tape). (Avery #8167, font 22) In addition, I cover my books with contact paper. Yes, it's time intensive, and costs money, but I do this when I watch t.v., or get parent help, and I really do only put out about $30/year. (I understand why most would not want to take the time to do this, but it suits me.) I stay on top of repairs, too, and do a fair amount of taping at the bottom of pages to prevent page/spine separation. This is my 30th year of teaching, and I've had many books that long, and they look pristine. As far as display, I have a bookcase with separated wood slots about 10 " wide: 1.0, 1.1, 1.2 on the first shelf, and then second grade books on the next shelf, etc. through 4th grade level. The shelving unit is about 8' long. Then, I have another book shelf where I keep seasonal books, and a few categories like: Fly Guy; Jokes; songs, poetry, Bill Martin, Jr. anthologies. At the end of a season I integrate about 1/2 the seasonal books into the bookshelf, and re-store the other half. Plus, I have a monthly book club: September, Clifford and Kevin Henkes; October: Mercer Mayer and Munsch, etc. Again, at the end of the month those books get integrated. The students (at grade level) must take an A.R. book home every evening, and may borrow more if they wish. Those reading below first grade level take home books from their own level. However, no child is restricted from any book above their reading range. Every child has a plastic gallon bag with the label "Please read with me," that they keep in their "Take Home Folder." Any high interest book high reading level book a child wants to borrow goes in the bag to go home. This helps direct parents so they know this isn't just some random library book their child is carrying around, but part of a routine in our classroom, and their child would like to specifically have this book read to them (or share the reading.) I send books home freely. I've lost a few along the way, but I let that go. ( Eventually, most children clean out from under their beds and the books make it back to my classroom, even if it's a year or two later! :) For the last two years I've collected bilingual books. This year I put a small bookcase outside my classroom and gathered all the bilingual children from our four second grade classes. I gave them all a "Read to me" bag and showed the routine of how to borrow a book and put it back neatly. I'm really pleased we have this way to help parents who might not be fluent in English to still read to their children. Thanks for sharing your ideas and allowing me to share mine!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share such wonderful ideas with my readers. Your students are so lucky to have so many wonderful books to choose from in your classroom.

  6. By the way, and shhhhh don't tell. I found a second hand town that normally sells its kids books for 99 cents. After 3 months they sell for 20 cents each. In my first trip in I bought $60 - that's 300 books!!!! And these were GOOD books. I may never score there that big again, but it's going to be the best kept secret I've ever held. Do I need more books . . . well sure, but not really. The fun for me is last month I put up a "Little Free Library", and now I have a good stash to work from. I'll share my facebook page, simply because there are two articles from the local newspapers about the ribbon cutting. Anyway, welcome back to the classroom! Articles:


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