This is a picture of our reading center. We have a cozy tent that we use to snuggle up with a good book and read. The kids love that they have a quiet defined area in the room that is used only for reading. (Of course, there are specific rules for the reading tent...no more than 3 kids, always quiet, always reading). The tan and brown shelf has books sorted by categories. The yellow shelf is full of picture books...nothing specific...just all different kinds of books so there is always something interesting to each student. The colored book bins are full of leveled readers that the kids can use to "shop" for books.
*See below about reading motivation...the kids use these book bins for this.*
At the beginning of the year, I give every student a "Reading License." I tell them that adults get a driver's license which gives them special permission to drive a car when they're old enough. This is their reading license which gives them special permission to read because they are now old enough to become great readers! They love it when I compare it to a drivers license!
On their reading license, I put their name, age, birthday, a picture of them, and the last thing is a dot sticker. They all start with a black dot. The black dot means that they can read any of the books that have a black dot on them. When the books with black dots are getting too easy for them, they can sign up to read with me during center time to see if they are ready for the next level. This is how my leveled library is set up (it's nothing scientific...I used mostly professional judgement to level my books)...
Black 1-Wordless Stories
Black 2- Easier-Medium level A
Black 3- Challenging A
Green 1- Easier level B
Green 2- Difficult B-Easier C
Green 3- Level C
Blue 1- Level D
Blue 2- Level E
Blue 3- Level F
The color dots on the books correspond with the color of the book bins (with the exception of the black dots...they go to the orange bins. I found the perfect size bins at Target after I already leveled my books...go figure!)
When the kids sign up to read, I test them on their level and then see how challenging the next level is going to be for them. If I feel like they can handle the challenge of the next level, I put a new colored dot on their reading license, and they get a little reward along with a Good Reader Certificate to take home to show off to Mom and Dad. They also, of course, get lots and lots of praise! I have found that this system gives them a ton of control over their own success. They're always trying to get to the next level and they're also really excited when their friends move up a level and that encourages them to do better as well(which is always so wonderful to see them so excited and proud of their buddies!)!