Create a School Book Room

Our school created a book room last summer for the elementary teachers, and it has been such a handy repository for all the books we share on a regular basis. When our language arts teachers met to discuss our needs and wants for the book room, most of us had read It’s All About the Books and had been drooling over the pictures. We used that book as inspiration and identified three main goals. We needed easy access for all teachers at any time of day, flexibility to allow for new books or the removal of books we no longer needed, and an efficient organization system since we had limited space.

School bookroom

Book Room Access

Our book room is a small, narrow space between two third grade classrooms. It already had shelving installed and housed all our crafty project supplies. We overhauled and consolidated the project supplies, which gave us room for the book sets. The third grade teachers graciously allow us to enter their classrooms discreetly any time of the day, although, we found that we typically needed to get in there during that few minutes we are last minute prepping right before the school day starts, so it is not too disruptive for the teachers. There are two doors, Jack and Jill style, between the two classrooms, so we don’t always need to enter the book room space the same way.

Master Book List

We created a master spreadsheet with all the book sets listed and shared it with our group on Google Drive. The spreadsheet has title, author, number of book copies the school owns, book reading level, and a column for location because we do keep some book sets in our individual classrooms. We printed two copies of the book list to keep in the book room. One copy is sorted by reading level; the other copy is sorted by author. Teachers can find a book based on the level they need or search for a specific book based on author. Using the spreadsheet, we created labels that are attached to colorful bookmarks. This identifies the set making it easy for teachers to locate sets.

School bookroom

When new book sets are added mid-year, a teacher fills out a blank bookmark and adds the book set to the appropriate bin. The teacher also adds the information to the Google Drive spreadsheet. I was appointed “spreadsheet master” so I periodically go through and update and re-sort the spreadsheet (it’s a good summer task).

School bookroom

Book Room Organization

When teachers need to check out books from the book room, we have a clothespin system. Teachers take the books they need and leave the clothespin attached to the bookmark or book box where the books will be returned. Not only do we have book sets with trade books we purchase independently, we also have the Fountas and Pinnell guided reading series. One of our teachers created leveled labels that we hot glued to the fronts of the various boxes.

School bookroom

To help teachers keep the materials in the correct spaces, there are pictures posted on the walls near the shelves with a visual of how the materials should look. We have the pictures maps set up for the book bins as well as for the craft supply bins.

School bookroom

TIP: We used all the existing plastic bins we had. We oriented them in different directions and fit book sets side by side. We also slid picture book sets in between book bins. Maximize your space!

School bookroom

I do have plans to spend a day this summer cleaning and updating the school book room, but for the most part, it has stayed in its original condition. We all get the books we need when we need them. It has been a huge help particularly for the lower grade teachers who are grabbing the F&P leveled readers constantly. Even if you have limited storage space at your school, finding a closet or unused area to start a shared book room is well worth the time and effort!

School bookroom

How to Write a Letter an Author Will Love

secret destiny of pixie piper

In This Recent Fractured Fairy Tale Book List Post, I highlighted a sweet book Miss Priss and I found this summer called The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper. Because of the post, a real live book author contacted ME! She offered to author a guest post at TheRoomMom. Ms. Fisher offers great tips for contacting book authors and writing letters that authors love to read.

annabelle fisher letter

A Guest Post by Annabelle Fisher

Author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper

Have you ever written to an author before? Have you imagined her (or him!) reading your letter while drinking a cup of coffee? Was this author smiling, laughing, or wishing she could give you a comforting hug?

The letters we authors like to receive best are a bit like conversations. The one I posted above is one of my favorites because I could picture the letter-writer’s class laughing or shouting as the teacher read. It included details about exactly what was funny. I also liked hearing how my book let the class “get the laughs out” after reading a sad book. I loved knowing that my story made those kids feel better.

I asked some author friends of mine what questions and comments they like to see in the letters they receive. Here are their answers:

Donna Galanti, author of Joshua and the Lightning Road, wrote that she’d had a young reader (who actually reviews books) tell her that he liked how she used scents and smells in her book. He quoted the line “He smelled like a wet dog that had been swimming in sour milk.” He said he knew “exactly how revolting is.”

Author Susan Lynn Meyer wrote that one of her favorite things was hearing from a young reader in Austria who had read the English edition of her novel, Black Radishes, although German was his first language and it had been translated into German.  Ms. Meyer said, “It’s exciting the book is traveling around the world, including to places I’ve never been.”

Jeannie Mobley, author of Silver Heels, says, “I commonly have kids tell me what they think should happen to my main characters after the story ends, and I always like that.”

Author Susan Ross says, “I was very moved by thank you letters in a blog from an inner city class…that read Kiki and Jacques prior to my author visit. One student’s favorite part was the father getting help with alcoholism; another said he could face up to a bully now….Meant so much to me!”

These caring authors are curious about what you think – and so am I. We enjoy knowing not just what our readers liked, but why. We want to know not only where you’re from, but what you would show us if we came to visit your city or town.  We like to hear if the main character or another character reminds you of yourself, a friend, or a frenemy. And we absolutely want to know if our books inspired you and how.

Your questions and comments remind us that our readers care about what we write. So keep those letters coming!

Annabelle Fisher is the author of The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper, which reviewers have called, “entertaining,” “fresh,” “creative,” and “pretty darn charming.” Visit her website at www.annabellefisher.com for info about author talks and writers’ workshops. Or email her at annabellefisherbooks@gmail.com

fisher author letter tips pin

For more help writing author letters, CLICK HERE to download a Free Author Letter Resource on TpT.