Top Ten Book Basket Labels Created by Kids by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan

When students help us organize the classroom library ownership changes.  Students know which books are in the classroom library. They know where to find the books they love and can tell us which books they wish we had in our collection.  Organizing the library doesn’t need to wait until a long break.  It can happen throughout the school year.  Kids can arrange baskets for an upcoming unit of study, a new round of book clubs, and even create shelves that house their favorite texts.


Students also help us categorize books and curate text sets.  As we watch and listen, we see what interests them, what they know about different genres, how they preview books and the ways they connect books.  If we want books to be a part of our students’ lives, let’s invite them to be a part of the creating classroom libraries.


Here are our top ten favorite book basket labels of text sets students in K-6 classrooms created:


Looking for an Adventure

When we asked several middle-grade readers, “If there was a basket of books in the classroom library that was perfect for you, what would the label say?”  Student after student said they wanted adventure books. If our students want adventures, let’s introduce them to The Jumbies, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, and The Book of Elsewhere.


Girl Power

During reading conferences, we noticed girls were asking for books with girls as strong main characters.  We want these readers to meet characters like Nikki and Deja, Sofia Martinez, and Mia Tang from Front Desk.


I Like to Read

A group of kindergarteners came up with this label after we read aloud Surf’s Up and Where Are My Books?  Every time the students heard or read a new book about loving to read, it went right into this basket.


Books to Take Your Mind Off Your Worries

When we asked a third grader to tell us about his reading life, he said, “I read at night when I am stressed.  Reading calms me down.”  He created this basket to help kids in his class find books to help them forget their worries.


Do What’s Right. Take a Stand!

During a literary theme unit of study, these readers labeled empty baskets with some common universal themes. As they found texts that brought specific themes to life, they added the book to that basket.  Thanks to QR codes, these baskets included both traditional and digital texts.


Peaceful Books

When a student had a death in her immediate family, life was hard.  With time, she found comfort from her teacher and in the books she read.  When asked to tell us about herself as a reader she explained, “books make me feel peaceful.”  The first book she put into the basket was Blue Sky White Stars by Kadir Nelson.



When we book talked a few baskets in the “funny books book basket” one student raised his hand and said – Wait!  Can’t we call it LOL?  That sounds much cooler – we agreed.


Dynamic Duos

As first graders wrote their own fiction series, we introduced them to the term – Dynamic Duos.  Once these first graders heard this, we couldn’t contain their excitement!  Each time they read a series with two characters they exclaimed, “Look!  Look!  I found another dynamic duo.”  The Dynamic Duo basket instantly became a classroom hit.


Series to Stream

This basket came along when one boy exclaimed, “I can’t stand it when I have to wait for the next book to be published.  These authors don’t write fast enough.  Isn’t there some series I can stream just like TV shows?”  This basket includes series that are completed or have lots of books already published.


Parents Lose It

During reading workshop, one student ran up to us, “These books all go together. In every book, the parent loses it!”


“Wait! Say more. What do you mean – parents lose it?”


She pointed at each book and explained, “In this book, the mom gets angry at the beginning, but in this book, the mom is patient at first, and finally loses it at the end.  Oh, and in this book (holding up Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems), the dad loses it.”


After this discussion, this student created  “Parents Lose It” Basket and shared it with the class.



Each day we work in classrooms, we are amazed at what students create once we give them space, time and a bit of ownership.  What baskets would your students create if you asked, “If there was a basket of books in the classroom library that was perfect for you, what would the label say?”


If you would like to see more labels created by students, check out our Pinterest Board – Book Basket Labels Created by Kids.


Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan are staff developers who are still teachers at heart. Their newest book, It’s All About the Books, is filled with ways to get more texts into the hands of readers. You can find them on Twitter as @ClareandTammy and online at www.teachersforteachers.netwhere they blog about books and the art of teaching.