Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Book Clutter and a Giveaway!

Shannon has made today's Works-For-Me Wednesday: The Backwards Edition. This means that instead of me offering a tip, I am posting a question that has stumped me, so I am asking for your advice.

After seeing the pictures you must realize my problem. How do we keep the books organized in the kid's rooms? I try to stand them up neatly, but it only looks nice for a couple of days and I do not have the energy to fix them everyday! Please offer me any ideas that you have to keep the books tidy around here. I am willing to purchase whatever I need to get their books under control!!! As you can tell this situation drives me C-R-A-Z-Y, so I am doing a giveaway as an incentive to get lots of suggestions! :o)

If you offer a creative solution, you will be entered into a drawing for a $15.00 Gift Card to Amazon - that way you can add more book clutter to your shelves! ;o) The contest will close on Thursday, March 6th @ 3:00 PM (central time). I will put the names in a hat and have my boys draw the winner. Thanks so much for helping me with my dilemma!

To help others out, go to Rocks In My Dryer for the list.

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Gray Matters said...

First, I think I would pair down the books a little - I find that if I store a box in the closet and rotate it every couple of weeks it keeps the mountain of books down and the kids always think there's something new to read.

Next I would measure the depth of your shelves and get a few baskets/containers to store the books. I like putting the books where they are facing forward so the kids can see the covers and easily choose what they would like to read.

Hope this helps a little.

April said...

How old are your kids? When mine were 8 and 6 our shelves looked like that. I organized them alphabetically and told them they could only get one book at a time, it had to be on the shelf before they could get another(kind of library style). Another possibility is to let then pick a few out, put the others in another room,in a storage tub, or a high shelf, and tell them they can exchange a book for another.

S.B. said...

I hear you about the book problem. It happens because the books are all different shapes and sizes.

What I have done is group the books by size, and for the really little or wacky shaped books (we have one shaped like a duck!), I keep them in a basket next to the bookcase. I also use bookends to help keep the books on the shelf neat.

Hope this helps.


Shannon said...

I have a few suggestions that might be helpful?!

#1 Our library has shelves in the childrens's area for each season/holiday and so does our preschool. But, at preschool, books not in season are put away until the next change of season. Books are more interesting to kids when they haven't seen them in a while and the clutter is a lot more controlled for the teacher.

#2 Have the kids arrange them in alphabetical order, depending on your children's ages this may or may not work. Shelf 1: A thru F books, etc...

#3 Make it a game. If they organize it properly each day. . .they get a trip to the library that weekend (or some other fun incentive). That way it's both fun, and they're learning how to alphabetize. This one wasn't always effective for me, because I'd forget what I promised sometimes.

#4 I also have the kids go through the books with me each Spring to decide if they're are any books we'd like to donate to the school or to charity. This is a good way for me to teach them charity and to control the clutter.

#5 You can also ask the kids to shelve them according to color or size. If I switch it up a little, my kids think it's more fun than a chore. I'm sure eventually they'll catch on, but for now, it works.

I hope some of these ideas help, they're all ones we've used at one time or another and seem to help. As my kids have gotten older, they've been a lot better about keeping their personal space organized.

Good Luck ( :

Jeni said...

First of all, if you've got a good library handy, I'd get rid of a bunch of the books. You could even donate them to that library, and that way they'd be there if your kids do want to check them out.

I'd only keep books of sentimental value, rare books, vintage books, or a few personal read-over-and-over books for each child.

After simplifying your collection, I'd try storing them in a bin on a shelf - maybe a bin for each child, with their current favorite and a few new ones?

I've faced this same struggle with my own books. There are books that I love, and will read over and over again - but I don't need to personally own them. I have a library card, and the library is right across the street from the grocery store. If a book isn't rare or of sentimental value, it's going in the donation pile.

Hope that helps!

Edi said...

Use some sort of magazine/file holder thingy (those plastic or cardboard things that will hold floppy books upright).

We have a ton of books and it is something that just needs to be worked on regularly. I encourage the kids to take out/replace in the same spot but it doesn't always happen. Try making your own out of extra large cereal boxes...I don't have instructions for them but I've done that before.

One other thing is to weed out books you don't really love or the kids have outgrown. There are millions of GREAT books, thousands of lame books - so pick and choose what you bring home...and go through them regularly to see if anyone still likes them.

Gettysburg Mom said...

I am sooo much happier since we ditched the bookshelves in my daughter's room. Instead we have large boxes (milk crate size) throughout the house. She puts them back (most of the time)- and I don't have to schlep loads of books upstairs to her room. Good luck!

mer said...

Hi Jenn,

Here's what has worked for me.

First, I put all of our seasonal books with my seasonal decorations...fall, Easter, Christmas go in a box with the stuff I pull out when I decorate.

Second, sort through them and donate ones you don't want or that they've outgrown. Believe me, I love books and this is HARD to do, but there's only so many of the Scholastic paperback books that I can keep up with. And also, this is much easier to do when your youngest is older because I know you want to save some of them for him!

Third, I have a large wooden toybox that was given to my son when he was a baby. It has become my book storage. I keep most of our books in there, and only let my kids keep a dozen or so in their room. Every week or two, we exchange the books for new ones. It definitely helps with clutter, and it also keeps them reading different books all the time!

Good luck...sounds like you've already gotten some GREAT ideas!

His Girl said...

Here's what I do (i just know this is the winning suggestion)

Periodically, I go in and reorganize the shelves, muttering bitterly, "why am I the only one who CARES about books in this house?" Then, my kids come in and mess them all up and never put them back.

THEN I make myself think, "praise the Lord they like books instead of snakes"

and that's how I do it. badly. haha.

when you choose the REAL solution, please let me know!

Halfmoon Girl said...

Hi, I hopped over here from His Girl's. I don't think I made the deadline as it is 3 pm pacific time, but here is my suggestion anyways. I have always wanted my hubby to build a bookshelf like this for our home:

or look at some other styles here:

Hope that helps. I would also put some away and switch them up on a rainy day when they will grab the kids attention.

Jenn said...

You have not missed the deadline - it is tomorrow at 3. Thanks everyone - I have enjoyed reading all the suggestions so far - looking forward to more.

BTW-- His Girl your comment made me smile. I enjoy your humor.

Lee said...

this is my only suggestion... baskets. Put the more stable hardcover books on the shelves. For the thinner, smaller books, put them in baskets. Often they are more trouble than they're worth on a shelf.

Anonymous said...

This has been mentioned already but I tend to go for the baskets. In my classroom I have red canvas baskets that I have sorted the books by subject. I would definitely put them in such a way that the front cover faces out. I like the idea of changing out books but that never seems to happen in my world!

I plan to put all of E's board books in a separate basket for the new baby.

Jinxy & Me said...

I empathize with your problem!!! I think it is very hard to get the book to stay upright and neat-looking on a bookshelf because the books just don't have enough support when they are sitting upright like that and when one book is removed, the one next to it usually flops over. Rather than bookshelves, try a few sturdy plastic bins. You will want one (or two) for large books, one for medium and one for those little odd shaped books. Then put them in the bins with the spines facing up so that you can read the titles. It gives the books more support and they are easy to move around or to lift up and put out of reach if little hands are still messing them up! Good luck!

lisasmith said...

I have the same problem and for so long it killed me to get rid of a book but then I had books all over my house. (Just typing this I am realizing I have books everywhere again)

I sent a storage box of books, videos and some small toys that my kids liked but thought they wouldn't miss too much to each grandparent's house so that when we visited they'd have fun toys they hadn't had in awhile. It worked but now they're all back at my house.

Our school is accepting book donations for giveaways at their carnival. We're definitely donating.

I also put the little board books in a plastic storage bin with a lid, put a managable amount of books on the family shelf, gave each child five books on their bedside table which they can rotate out and put Christmas in attic, etc.

(Here's an extra hint that's not about books at all: We had TONS of stuffed animals and when we had a halloween carnival thingie at our church, we hung them all from the ceiling of our booth and gave them as prizes when kids made a ring on the coke bottle. My kids thought giving them away this way was so cool that for about a week I only had four stuffed animals in my house! Keep it in mind for the fall!)

Also, I've discovered that most "readers" have book clutter somewhere in their house so don't feel too bad, they could like snakes like His Girl said.
Good Luck!!

PearLady said...

Wow! You've received some neat solutions already, and I find myself nodding and agreeing with a lot of them posted. I may have another possible idea to add: using little colorful baskets that fit on the shelves. It may help you and your children organize easier. It can help you arrange by theme, alphabetical, whatever. A label on the front of the basket can also provide an easy visual when needed. Hope that helps and good luck with the shelves! :)

Tina in Thailand said...

If you decide to take the suggestion of several of your smart commenters and just get rid of some of your books, I have just the place to send them to.

HOPE International School in Cambodia is opening a Homeschool Support Office and Resource Center and are in need of books, books and more books.

If you are interested in donating them, they would surely be happy to recieve them.

The contact information is:
Michelle Cowen

Happy de-cluttering!

{Karla} said...

I am taking notes as I read your comments, 'cause I am in the same boat. And on top of it, my daughter is a shover... drives me nuts!!

xo ~ K