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How To Set-Up Classroom Library Expectations

I’m continuing my series about my favorite classroom spot – The library! Let’s talk about how to set up classroom library expectations that your students will follow all year long! Don’t forget to check out my other posts about classroom libraries:

Organizing Your Classroom Library

5 Tips to Grow Your Classroom Library

students reading a book

The First Week

I don’t allow my students access to the classroom library the first week (or two) of the school year. There is so much to teach them about book care. I don’t want to let them loose in there and end up with damaged books and a giant mess.

Besides wanting to protect my books, this also builds excitement! The students always look forward to the opening of the library.

For the first week or 2, I have books in bins at everyone’s table. After they finish their work they can quietly read books sitting at their table. Early finisher work and library access will come after I’ve had a chance to explicitly teach my expectations. If you’d like to learn more about my early finishers system click on the link below.

Early Finishers – Setting Up for Success

Teaching Expectations

Once all of my essential routines and procedures have been taught, I move on to my library expectations. Some of these things might seem self-explanatory, but like any veteran kindergarten teacher will tell you – don’t assume they know anything! : )

Here’s a list of procedures to explicitly teach, model, and practice with your students before you allow open access to the library.

  • How the library is organized.
  • How to choose a book.
  • Where to go in the classroom to read a book.
  • Available library seating and the appropriate way to use it.
  • How to handle the book gently.
  • What to do when you’re done reading the book.
  • What to do if the book needs mending.
  • Rules for sharing a book.
  • Volume level allowed in the library.
  • When the library will be open for use.

These are the first week procedures I teach, but later on, you will also need to think about the following topics:

  • Student book bins – what can be kept in there and for how long.
  • What to do with seasonal books.
  • What to do when you want to read one of the teacher’s books.
  • Checking-out a book to take home.

I know it might seem silly, but all of these rules have to be taught and modeled and then practiced by the students.

For example, I teach the students how to choose a book. I show them how to take it out carefully, how to select a place to read it, how to treat it gently, and then how to put it back in the same place they found it.

After I model it, I have the students practice doing it for 5-10 minutes. I re-teach this procedure and practice with them 3-4 times before I consider the skill mastered.

Teaching your expectations takes time and patience, but it is worth the investment! You will be so thankful when you have a class that respects your library. Their future teachers will also thank you for showing them how to treat books with love and respect!

Book Care

Teaching students how to properly handle a book both at school and at home is imperative. I created this little poster to use in your room to illustrate the guidelines.

Sit at the rug with books and practice holding them properly and turning the pages gently. Show the students that you treat books with reverence and they will treat them the same way! Get this free poster by filling out the info below!


To help you teach library routines here are a couple of books and videos that you can use with your students to reinforce the concepts.

Any other tips and tricks you have for teaching library expectations? Drop them in the comments below!

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