Library Centers

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Ideas for Library Learning Centers

Welcome to the Learning Librarian blog!

At the top of any list involving library centers, I have to put Cari Young’s Library Learners blog!  No matter what combination of search terms I use when looking for center ideas, Google consistently returns this blog on the first page of results!  I have been following Cari’s blog for awhile now, and it has been a real source of inspiration for me.

Library Learners Logo

Here are her tips for getting started, and information about her book The Centered School Library: Engaging Every Learner with Library Skills Centers.

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Below you will find a categorized list of suggestions for library centers.  I have to thank the awesome #TLElem Group on Twitter for contributing many of the ideas you see here, and I have credited each contributor with his/her Twitter handle.  If you have an idea you’d like to share, please contact me so I can add it to the list!  You can tweet me @LibraryLoriJune or email me at lori.june @

If you would like your idea credited with a link to your blog or library website rather than (or in addition to) your Twitter profile, please let me know.  And if you have additional details or photos for an idea that’s listed here, I’d love to include them as well!

Note:  Take a few minutes to post the correlating AASL Standards and/or CCSS Standards at your learning centers.  Teachers and administrators WILL notice and appreciate it!

General Learning Center Advice

From Mrs. Lodge’s Library: Her collection of Library Centers, complete with photos and instructions for setting them up. (@MrsLodge)

From the Elementary Librarian blog:  How I Use Library Stations  (@Elem_Librarian)

From Carolyn’s Risking Failure blog: Library Center Debrief sharing from the presentation she gave at the Potomac VaASL Spring Regional Conference describing how and why she uses learning centers in her library (@carolynvibbert)

Computer Centers

Interactive Whiteboard

Writing and Drawing Centers

  • Corbett Harrison specializes in Writing activities, and many of his plans could work in a library center.  I like this Metaphor of the Week idea.  Also take a look at the Writing Fix website, which is the “home of interactive writing prompts.”
  • Elementary Teacher Resources has some suggestions for Literacy Centers.  Although they are for classrooms rather than libraries, many can be adapted.  For example, this Character Sketch center has students creating a drawing of a book character including traits such as what the character might think or say and where the character lives.
  • Bookmark Creation Station where students use provided materials to create bookmarks.  (@Okle_Miller)
  • Poster Creation Station where students use provided materials to create a book poster; for example, for state book award nominees.  (@JuleeMurphy)
  • Shelf Talker Creation Station  (@LibraryLoriJune)
  • Twitter Tweet Board where kids post paper “tweets” about books.  (@JuleeMurphy)
  • Book Review Creation Station where students fill out a form to recommend a book.  (@libraryjo92)
  • Art center where students examine – and create their own interpretations of – famous works of art  (@JuleeMurphy)
  • Drawing center stocked with pencils, paper, and some “How To Draw” books  (@melissajkwhite)

Hands-On Centers

  • Library Games (slogan: Making Libraries Fun!) has some ideas that can be incorporated into student centers.
  • Mrs. Simmons has a year-long plan for each grade level she serves (K-5th), and some of her lessons can be used in learning centers.  Scroll to the bottom of the page for links to each grade level.
  •   A lesson on Book Care that could become a center after being used in a whole class activity.
  • Paper Toys from the Toymaker features printable paper toys kids can assemble, including fairy tale characters, koi kites, finger puppets, mini books, and more.
  • Glue the large  green LEGO Building Plates to a wall; have Lego blocks bins below.  (@Cfwilkerson)
  • Spy Code Puzzles  (@JuleeMurphy)
  •  Origami Monster Bookmarks  (@cktechtl)
  • Shelving and Dewey Activities  (@Cfwilkerson)
  • Whisperphones  (@carolynvibbert)
  • Popsicle stick book cover puzzles  (@cktechtl)
  •  I Spy Center and then have items to recreate your own I Spy Challenge  (@JuleeMurphy)
  • “Create Your Own Eric Carle Inspired Art” with glue and tissue paper for students to use to create a picture of a flower, or sunshine, or anything!  This would work for other illustrator-inspired art, too.  (@librarygoddess)
  • Flannel board center based on a familiar story  (@librarygoddess)

Curriculum Tie-In

Reading-Related Centers

      • Have book reviews centered around a theme available for students to read.  (@librarianmissk)
      •   Book Buddy Reading  (@MrsLodge)
      • Genre Sorting:  Pull books and have students sort them based on reading a selected passage.  (@ReadKennedyRead)
      • Color Comics section from Sunday newspaper  (@LibraryLoriJune)
      • “Read a Book by ______” Center:  Fill in the blank with an author’s name, provide a stack of books by that author for students to read and picture walk through (@librarygoddess)

 Library Skills Centers

      • Book Sorting:  Make a large T on the floor with masking tape. Have students sort them by putting fiction and nonfiction books on either side.  (@Elem_Librarian)
      •   Parts of a Book:  Have students draw and label the parts of a fiction and nonfiction book.  (LibraryLoriJune)
      • Pull books from the shelf and have students organize alphabetically according to call number/letters  (@ReadKennedyRead)

Quick and Simple Centers


 Last Updated 9/21/2018
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Girl Power Books

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Girl Power Books!


Biographies – true stories of women and girls who have made a difference in the world


Brave Harriet: the first woman to fly the English Channel by Marissa Moss

The first American woman to have received a pilot’s license describes her April 1912 solo flight across the English Channel, the first such flight by any woman.

Here Come the Girl Scouts: the amazing all-true story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Lowe and her great adventure by Shana Corey

Introduces Juliette Gordon Low to readers and describes how her life-long love of the outdoors led her to found the Girl Scouts.

The Heroine of the Titanic: a tale both true and otherwise of the life of Molly Brown by Joan W. Blos

An anecdotal account of some of the adventurous activities of Molly Brown, with an emphasis on her survival of the sinking of the Titanic.

I Could Do That! Esther Morris gets women the vote by Linda Arms White

In 1869, a woman whose “can-do” attitude had shaped her life was instrumental in making Wyoming the first state to allow women to vote, then became the first woman to hold public office in the United States.

Jeannette Rankin: first lady of Congress by Trish Marx

A biography of Jeannette Rankin,an advocate for women and children who became the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress in 1916, and who worked to secure the vote for women, and maintained a difficult position against U.S. involvement in foreign wars.

Kate Shelley: bound for legend by Robert San Souci

A biography of the fifteen-year-old Iowa teenager who helped avert a train disaster in 1881 and became a national heroine.

Mighty Jackie: the strikeout queen by Marissa Moss

In 1931, seventeen-year-old Jackie Mitchell pitches against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game, becoming the first professional female pitcher in baseball history.

Seeds of Change: planting a path to peace by Jen Cullerton Johnson

Examines the life of Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize-winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai, who made a stand in the face of opposition to women’s rights and started an effort to restore Kenya’s ecosystem.

She Loved Baseball: the Effa Manley story by Audrey Vernick

An illustrated biography of baseball fanatic Effa Manley, describing her childhood in Philadelphia, her career as a business manager, how she came to be the owner of the New Jersey baseball team, the Newark Eagles, and her induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A T. Rex Named Sue: Sue Hendrickson’s huge discovery by Natalie Lunis

Describes the discovery and excavation of the famous tyrannosaur named Sue, and explains how the dinosaur came to belong to the Chicago Field Museum.

When Esther Morris Headed West: women, Wyoming, and the right to vote by Connie Woolridge

Describes Esther Morris’s efforts to help women earn the right to vote in Wyoming.

Wilma Unlimited: how Wilma Rudolph became the world’s fastest woman by Kathleen Krull

A biography of the African-American woman who overcame crippling polio as a child to become the first woman to win three gold medals in track in a single Olympic.

Women Daredevils: thrills, chills, and frills by Julie Cummins

Profiles fourteen women who flouted convention to work as entertainers in the years between 1880 and 1929, performing thrilling feats in the water, in the air, and in the circus.


Fiction – spirited stories starring spunky girls

(The first sentence or two from each book is quoted in italics.)

The All-New Amelia by Marissa Moss

Amelia keeps a journal of the makeover she gives herself to impress the new girl Charisse and the archaeological dig her class participates in.


This is me, Amelia, trying to look like a movie star.  Instead it looks like I’ve got popcorn stuck between my teeth.

Baby-sitting is a Dangerous Job by Willo Davis Roberts

A baby sitter and her three willful charges make a formidable team to outwit their surprised kidnappers.


I knew the minute I saw the Foster kids that I wasn’t going to like being their baby-sitter.


Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

(Newbery Winner) The adventures of an eleven-year-old tomboy growing up on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-nineteenth century.  (This book was written by Caddie’s granddaughter.)


In 1864 Caddie Woodlawn was eleven, and as wild a little tomboy as ever ran the woods of western Wisconsin.


Clementine’s Letter by Sara Pennypacker

After learning that her favorite teacher will be leaving for a trip to Egypt and will be absent for the remainder of the year, Clementine devises a plan to get rid of the substitute and get Mr. D’Matz to stay.


“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of…ouch!”  There is a lot of poking that goes on in third grade.


The Dark Stairs by Betsy Byars

The intrepid Herculeah Jones helps her mother, a private investigator, solve a puzzling and frightening case.


Friday the thirteenth came early that year, in January, making it even more unlucky.

Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard

When ten-year-old Drita and her family, refugees from Kosovo, move to New York, Drita is teased about not speaking English well, but after a popular student named Maxine is forced to learn about Kosovo as a punishment for teasing Drita, the two girls soon bond.  (Told from alternating points of view)


Drita: For three days, before I am coming to this country, I can’t eat.  Maxie: If you ask me, the most unlucky, annoying day of the week has got to be Monday.


A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz 

In the early twentieth century, young orphan Maud Flynn hopes to finally be loved when she is adopted by the elderly Hawthorne sisters, but she is instead roped into the family’s crooked séance business.


On the morning of the best day of her life, Maud Flynn was locked in the outhouse, singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”


Evangeline Mudd and the Golden-haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle by David Elliot

When Evangeline Mudd’s primatologist parents travel without her to the Ikkinasti Jungle to study the golden-haired apes, Evangeline and the world-famous Dr. Aphrodite Pikkaflee are eventually called upon to rescue the Mudds and save the jungle from the evil schemes of Aphrodite’s money-mad brother.


Evangeline Mudd thought she was the luckiest girl in all the world.  After all, how many of you have parents who not only let you swing from the chandeliers but teach you to do it?


Lucy Rose: working myself to pieces & bits by Katy Kelly

In her diary fourth grader Lucy Rose, lover of palindromes and big words, records her adventures with friends Jonique and Melonhead, including their unorthodox ways of raising money for the McBees to remodel their bakery.


At 7:46 this morning my eyeballs were practically popping out of their lids from tiredness and all I wanted to do was laze about for 23 or more minutes under my pink dotty bedspread in my all-red room and practice my stretching in case it might make me get taller, which I need because there’s a lot of shortness in my family, including me.


Nikki & Deja: the Newsy News Newsletter by Karen English

When Nikki and her best friend, Deja, start a newsletter about what is happening on their street and in their school, they focus more on writing exciting stories than on finding the truth.


Nikki walks backwards, tilting her head way up to look directly at the sky.  She does this kind of daredevil walk when she is feeling especially happy, especially satisfied.


Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Roxie Warbler, the niece of a famous explorer, follows Uncle Dangerfoot’s advice on how to survive any crisis when she becomes stranded on an island with a gang of school bullies and a pair of murderous bank robbers.


When Uncle Dangerfoot came to visit, everything in the house had to be just so.  The tea was piping hot, the crumpets and jam on a platter, and Roxie Warbler watched for him at the door.  The man who had wrestled alligators and jumped from planes was not to be kept waiting.


Smart Dog by Vivian Vande Velde

Fifth grader Amy finds her life growing complicated when she meets and tries to hide an intelligent, talking dog who has escaped from a university lab.


Amy Prochenko had her walk to school timed perfectly.  If she was too slow, she’s arrive late and get detention.  If she was too quick, she’d get there before her friends.


Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Eleven-year-old Theodosia has the ability to detect black magic and ancient curses that are attached to objects in the Museum of Legends and Antiquities, which her father is the curator of, and discovers that a new artifact from Egypt is cursed and she must return it to the tomb it was excavated from before it destroys the British Empire.


I don’t trust Clive Fagenbush.  How can you trust a person who has eyebrows as thick and black as hairbrushes and smells of boiled cabbage and pickled onions?