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Tips for Organizing Listening to Reading Materials

For years I struggled to organize my listening to reading materials. I never remembered to change out the books. Books and cd players were getting wrecked. Students had to listen to the same books over and over again because I didn’t have many books. 

It took a few years of struggle and many organizational tries to finally find a system that works. Now I am going to share it with you all. 

How students access listening to reading materials

I have stored all my books in one basket and students could pick their book. This didn’t work because students were constantly getting up and picking new books. 

I have put books a few books in plastic storage bags so students could take a bag of books to their spot. This didn’t work because I was always having to replace the bags when they got ripped. This was a waste of money and time. 

Then I was in a colleagues classroom and saw they had their books in plastic containers. This was the answer! I know store my books in these super sturdy containers. 

I can no longer find these exact containers but I use very similar ones for my math centers that I will use to replace these. Here are some links (affiliate) to check out the containers on Amazon:

.com https://amzn.to/2QhVygV

.ca  https://amzn.to/2TPCoBg

Transitioning to the plastic containers was also a work in progress. At the beginning I put as many books as possible in each container. My thinking was then I wouldn’t have to change the books as often.  Keep reading to see why this wasn’t the best idea. 

A note about the cd player storage. I use to have all the cd players in one basket and students chose a container of books and grabbed a cd player. Well I am sure you can guess what happened. They would balance the cd player on the book container and inevitably the cd player would be dropped on the floor. I was having to replace so many cd players. 

After a couple years…yes years, of replacing cd player I had to change it up. Now the cd player goes IN the container with the books. Each container now holds 4-5 books and a cd player. 

So far this seems to be the best way to have students easily pick a container with enough books to listen to and one where I don’t have to keep replacing cd players. 

If you have an even better/more effective way please let me know in the comments because I am open to change. 

How I store the books

Storing the books has also been a struggle for me but I am happy to say that I have FINALLY found a solution.

I use to keep all my books stored in a cupboard but then I would forget which ones I have put out or even to change them.

No more! I know store them in large storage bags labelled for each month. 

 I have sorted all my books so that any holiday books are in the appropriate month’s bag and then spread out my chapter books. The monthly bags are now stored in the cupboard where they can be easily accessed. 

At the beginning of each month I switch out the books. It has become such a quick process now and student know they will get to read new books each month. 

My goal is to have 16 books in each bag (I am getting close) so that I will have enough for 4 books in each container. 

The chapter books stay in the containers for a couple months if students are still reading them. The last person to have a sticky note with there name on it, in the book, will let me know when they are finished reading the book and then I will take it out. 

The bags I use are from Dollarama but you can use any extra large bags. Here is a link to Dollarama so you can see them in greater detail. 

Where I find all my books

I have been collecting books with cds for many years and I am still on the look for more (so I can get 16 for each month). 

Here are a few places I have found books with cds:

  • Scholastic book orders
  • second hand stores
  • teachers selling/giving away stuff when they retire
  • Walmart (I am not sure if they still have them but they use to have 2 books & cds for $10)
  • garage sales
  • I have put ISO ads on local FaceBook buy and sell groups.
  • A friend sold Barefoot books so I bought some there. These are my students’ favourite ones. 
  • parent donations
  • Amazon 

Where I find my cd players

I was getting my cd players at Walmart but they no longer carry them in my town so I have had to look elsewhere. 

I have had some success asking for them on local Facebook buy and sell groups but when those are not available, I get them from Amazon. 

Here is the one I get on Amazon (affiliate links):

.com https://amzn.to/38VGXye

.ca https://amzn.to/3b2lQvP

I use to have to replace the cd players all the time because students were dropping them as they carried them to their listening spot. Since I have changed to the cd players being in the container with the books, I have not had to replace any of them!

If you do not have portable cd players in your classroom, you could also use desktop computers or laptops to play the cds.

Alternatives to hard copy books and cds

If you do not have access to books with cds or you want a digital alternative, you can access stories online at:

  • Storyline Online – Video clips of celebrities reading a picture book. 
  • Epic Books – You can sign your students up for their own account so they can access books online anytime. 
  • Just Books Read Aloud – Hundreds of picture books read out loud. No membership required. 
  • Vooks – With this you would have to give your students your login information because there is no student accounts. BONUS- Educators get the first year FREE!
  • Tumblebooks – A paid membership for your class or school.

If you have found other online read aloud sites, please leave a comment below so I can add it to the list 🙂 


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