Reading books aloud to children is one of my favorite parts of being a school counselor. I enjoy finding books with a strong message that students can connect with, learn from, and apply to their own lives. I am an avid book collector, so it is important that I keep my library organized in order to find what I need!
As a former 2nd grade teacher, my favorite part of my classroom was my classroom library. By my 8th year of teaching, I had collected over 2,500 books for my students! While I do not have quite as many as a school counselor I continue to use children’s books on a regular basis. I frequently use books in my classroom lessons, small groups, and even during individual counseling sessions. Read on to learn how you can organize your school counseling library!
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Step 1: Sort Your Books
The first step to create an organized school counseling library is to sort all of your books. To begin this process as a new counselor, I borrowed a kindergarten teacher’s classroom because I needed a wide, open space. I started by choosing about 10 categories that I knew I had a lot of books for and wrote the categories on Post-It notes. I began sorting my books into piles by theme. When I started finding books that did not match up with my Post-Its, I began creating sub-piles with similar themes. In the end, I had 20 piles of books that were matched by theme!
School Counseling Library Themes
Here are the 20 themes that I use in my counseling library!
1) Making Friends: Books about social skills related to friendships
2) Friendship Problems: Books about conflict resolution, bullying, and gossip
3) Self-Esteem: Books about individuality and confidence
4) Feelings: Books about general feelings that do not match my other specific feelings categories
5) Families: Books about divorce, new siblings, and family conflicts
6) Anxiety: Books about anxious feelings and coping skills
7) Anger: Books about angry feelings and coping skills
8) Grief: Books about the loss of a friend, family member, or pet
9) Self-Control: Books about impulse control
10) Kindness: Books about treating others with kindness and respect
11) School: Books about new students, school anxiety, and other school-related issues
12) Life Skills: Books about character traits and manners
13) Health: Books about illnesses, lice, hygiene, and other health-related issues
14) Teamwork: Books about cooperation and working together
15) Careers: Books about career options
16) Girl Power: Books about confidence building specific to girls
17) Creativity: Books about thinking outside of the box
18) Perseverance: Books about not giving up
19) Diversity: Books about individuality and cultures
20) Read Alouds: Books not specifically related to counseling, but are fun to read aloud during Right to Read Week and other special school events
Step 2: Catalog Your Books
Although this step is not completely necessary, I like to catalog my books so that I have an easy way to see all of the books that I own. There are many websites and apps that you can use to catalog your books. My favorite book catalog website is Library Thing. Here is why I love it:
- You can add books by typing in the title and Library Thing will pull the rest of the info for you
- You can use a book scanner to easily add a large amount of books (probably not necessary for a counselor, but I still own the scanner I used as a classroom teacher!)
- You can organize your books by category
- You can browse your categories by book cover to quickly find the book you are looking for
- You can “tag” books to break down your categories. For example, the “friendship problems” category may have tags for bullying, conflict resolution, gossip, etc.
Step 3: Design Your Library
The next step is to decide how you would like to design your library in your office. I keep the majority of my books on a tall, wooden bookshelf. On the top shelf, I store all of my counseling resource books. On the rest of the shelves, I have my books sorted into bins by categories.
I have two types of bins on my bookshelf. Near the top, I use these neon bins from Really Good Stuff. They are a bit pricier, however, I bought these when I was a classroom teacher and they have held up very well. I love how they come with a clip-on label to easily add your book category. A less expensive option are these Storex bins, which appear to be very similar.
The narrow bins above are great for the categories where I have less than 20 books. For my larger categories, I use wider plastic baskets (about 13″ X 10″). My bins are similar to this 6-pack from Sterelite, but you can also snag these baskets for a great price at stores like Target or Wal-Mart.
Step 4: Label Your Bins
Labels for Resource Books
On the top shelf of my counseling library, I store all of my counseling resource books. They are organized into categories that are separated by paint stirring sticks! Here’s how I made the book separators:
1) Get some paint stirring sticks from a home improvement store.
2) Place the paint sticks in a cardboard box and spray paint them. Wait 1 hour, flip them over, and spray
paint the other side.
3) Use the Avery Label Template and type in your counseling resource topics.
4) Print your topics on Avery mailing labels.
5) Stick the labels onto the ends of each paint stirrer. My labels lasted for 2 years, and during year 3, I used clear packing tape to cover each sticker to secure it better.
Labels for Book Baskets
The next step in organization is to design labels for all of your baskets! If you use baskets that are a similar size as mine, I went ahead and did the work for you! 🙂 Click on the resource below to download your FREE School Counseling Library Labels!
One great thing about having an organized library is that it is very easy to loan out books to students or parents! I can quickly grab a book during a parent meeting and let a family borrow it for a week or two. I also find that students like to peek at the categories of books when they are in my office, and when they get curious, I ask if they want to borrow a book from me. To help me keep track of the books I loan out, I use a page in my Digital Counseling Binder, which is a Google Slides file that I use to organize my counseling life! Here is a peek at the slide:
Must-Have Books for School Counselors
Looking for more books to stock your counseling library shelves? Click here to find all of my must-have books for elementary school counselors!