Sorting and Displaying Books… for now.

Someone recently asked me how I organize books in our home.  The answer is that we’ve gone through a few different methods and the current one isn’t ideal, but it works. “Do the best you can with what you’ve got!” What we currently do is this: picture books are sorted into 12 stacks—one for each month.  The stacks not in use are stored in the attic (not ideal since it’s dusty up there but I don’t have space in our main living area quite just yet). The current month is stored in a basket like so:

Each stack is comprised of both seasonally appropriate books and generic titles.  I used to have only seasonal divisions but as our book collection grew, two things happened:  1-My basket wasn’t big enough to hold a full season.  2- Many of the books NOT season specific never got read!  Adding in generic titles to our monthly baskets was the best thing I ever did!  Now, our excellent picture books all get read and loved in a healthy rotation and the children are happy to see “novel” titles each month.  So anyway, here is the month of April spread out (doesn’t the toddler and soup near those books make you nervous?!  Me too… I quickly put them away after this–and yes, that’s the cover missing off of Caps for Sale but I can’t bear to toss it in my upcycling pile until I replace the book):
Seems I’ve got about 20-25 books for most months right now. Each week, I grab some of the books and put them on the piano for display–an (effective) effort to lure young readers into wanting to grab one of those titles. Occasionally a library book or two (library books have their own basket) will be displayed like this with our regular ones:
This is the general plan and it works well for now but it doesn’t solve the problem of most of our non-fiction titles which live on the bottom half of a shelf in our spare room. The top row seen here is pretty much every religious book we own, along with an assortment of fables and fairy tale books (probably not a great idea to put those categories on the same shelf as if they are equal genres… but it fits).  The middle row is all of our biographies, science, history, etc. books of the living sort that we read and reference frequently in our school studies. This row is full and tight and spilling onto the bottom row which is a smattering of readers, Dr. Seuss, Bob Books etc. The problem is that I often forget what I have!  I don’t want to employ the Dewey Decimal System in my home, but I’ve got to get a better accounting method going on for when we need a book on Ancient Egypt or dinosaurs for example.  I did set up a Library Thing account but it’s not been updated for over a year!  I think I’ll probably resort to shelf labels or magazine file holders for this area. It won’t be nearly as attractive but are books for aesthetics or utility?  (In my world, both… but I digress.)  
Okay, the top half of that bookshelf has our chapter books and a random smattering of games/stuff:
Our baby/board books (when not scattered throughout the house) get kept in their own little basket on a low end table for easy accessibility.  I try to rotate a few seasonal things in and out of there but mostly it’s just all the same… new ones come in via thrift stores and old ones get tossed after getting soaked, torn or chewed beyond repair. Here it was at Christmas:
So this is our method today… tomorrow may be different!  In addition to this, each child has their own small basket or shelf of personally owned or gifted books that are in their room. My daughter has hers in a really cool pallet shelf Papa built:
And my own collection of adult books are still waiting for a permanent home… except my homeschooling or education philosophy books which are accessible on a shelf above the computer.

5 thoughts on “Sorting and Displaying Books… for now.

  1. Erin

    Love posts like this!
    "Adding in generic titles to our monthly baskets was the best thing I ever did! "
    I so get this!! I'm also always struggling how to rotate, some great books in there but they're not getting read.
    Still haven't a solution but you've inspired me to try to find a solution again. I keep thinking maybe those book boxes at the library would solve my problem..and they are up for auction soon, hoping I win some

  2. Ellie

    ooh, good luck! My big struggle is with books that are living titles; rotate them because they are indeed stories… or keep them on the non-fiction/unit study/social studies shelves? What do you do?

  3. Kansas Mom

    I really want to have a monthly basket (and am thinking specifically of all those great non-season specific titles), but I can't for the life of me figure out what to do with the other 11 piles. I essentially have only one closet in this whole house and it's the master bedroom closet. It already has all of our clothes plus anything for the kids that's out of season or size (and there's 10 years' worth). So that's full. And there are three bookshelves in my room already, all full of most of the homeschooling books we're not currently using. I kind of want to get a shelf to put in front of our fireplace which we've only used once in five and a half years, but it's hard to commit to not ever using it again…

    1. Ellie

      Have you considered high shelves? Over doorways even? I plan on going vertical as soon as my husband finds time to build them!

    2. Kansas Mom

      I'm pretty sure all available wall space is already devoted to bookshelves. The space above our doorways has vents for air circulation. I'll have to wander the house with new eyes to see if I missed something.

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