We've got seven simple ways to make your after school library awesome, making reading fun and exciting for every student.

Add Fun Organizer Tags

Make it easy and fun for students to dig through your library with fun tags. Find fun ideas for designing your tags on Pinterest and then decide how you’ll organize the library. Common book-organizer categories include:

  • Titles
  • Author
  • Grade-level
  • Lexile levels
  • Category
  • Subject matter

Create a Reading Event Calendar

Students will use your after school library whenever they choose, but you can organize “events” that get them excited about hanging out in the library. Get ideas for future events with these ideas:

  • Read Aloud Time: Do this once a week, allowing students to take turns reading out loud.
  • Theater Time: Once or twice a month, host a book theater, where students act out the scenes of their favorite books. Students can vote on winners to make it more fun.
  • New Book Celebration: Celebrate having new books in your library with a party. Bring in snacks and drinks, and have students explore the new books by reading independently or together.
  • Read-a-Thon: Use a tool like Whooo’s Reading to host a weeklong read-a-thon, where students read in your after school program and at home. Give top readers fun prizes and certificates.

Update it Frequently

Give your students plenty of books to choose from by updating your library often. If you don’t have a budget to buy more books, use a program that donates or organizes swaps. For example:

  • Paperback Swap: Create an account and swap your old books with other schools and programs.
  • WeGiveBooks: This site allows kids to read hundreds of children’s books online for free.
  • Donations: Hold a book donation drive a few times a year to solicit your community for more books

Make a Technology Corner

Your technology corner doesn’t need to be fancy; just one computer, iPad, laptop or Chromebook is enough. Use this as a place for students to log reading, research books, and more.

When creating your technology corner, write rules for its use and post them on the wall or desk so students don’t forget. Some rules to implement include:

  • These tools are only to be used for reading-related activities, such as logging your reading or researching a new book.
  • You can only use the laptop/iPad/etc for X minutes.
  • The sites you are not allowed to visit are X, X, and X.

Create a Sharing Program

Encourage students to read wherever they are with a simple sharing program. You can create a sign-out sheet with paper and pen, where students have to write their name, the date and the title of the book they’re taking. Or, you can use your technology corner to create a digital sign-out sheet.

Keep Track of Every Book

You can do this manually, by keeping a Google Doc with every book in your library. Give students a chance to be in charge of this, taking extra work off your plate and empowering them to be a part of the library.

You can also use a product like Intelli Scanner, which automatically organizes every book you scan, and fills in various details it takes from the barcode. You can access this information online, making it easy to keep track of what you do and don’t have.

Build a Book Wish Box

Give students a chance to request the books they want to read with a Book Wish Box. This can be as simple as turning an old shoebox into a container with a slot for submitting requests. Students will be excited when the books they requested are a part of the library they use every day.

Encouraging students to pick up a book outside of the classroom is an important part of teaching them to love reading. An after school library gives them a chance to explore their favorite reads, even if they don’t have a lot of books at home.

Add a technology corner, create a Book Wish Box, and host fun reading events to make your library one they love going to.