Thursday, February 3, 2011

School Days, School Daze! Part Three- Organizing a Home Library

Last time I talked about how I organize my school day and the things we use often.  This time I want to talk more about organizing.  Every home should have a library, homeschooling or not.  Really, God has called us ALL to be responsible for schooling our children.  I think that all children should have access to good books at home, in their free time.

Shelves by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

CHILDREN'S BOOKS  Organizing books can be hard, especially if you have a lot of them.  We had about 800 at last count (yes, I did count.  That's another story...)  not including some that are boxed away.  I know some homeschooling moms with upwards of 5,000 books.  Yes, I said five thousand!  It gets even more challenging if your children are young and not really responsible or educated enough to shelve them in a complicated way.  Hours worth of alphabetizing could be derailed in a few minutes by an eager four-year-old boy!  (TRUST me, I know!) In fact, it looks like some of ours are missing.  They often end up in bed or behind the couch after being lovingly chosen as a quiet time companion.

So what is the answer to having organized shelves, and still be open to discovery and exploration?


Start by making broad categories.  The older your kids, the more categories you can have.  I have a few, and I have only had one or two books misplaced in 6 months.  That's pretty good considering they are 2, 4 and 5 and they take STACKS down at a time.

My system in simple.  I have fiction on one shelf, non fiction on another.  The children's picture books are all on the fiction side, on the two bottom shelves.  I WANT my kids to feel free to take these books and read them, whenever they want!

The non fiction side also has two shelves.  One has science books on it, and the other one if for history and geography books.  Simple.  Easy to understand, even for the littlest ones.  You put the book back on the shelf it came off of.

It works.

I have all of my read-alouds on the very top shelves.  These are for my hands only.  These shelves are not organized, really.  The different series are together, thats it.  I am not worried about this because I know where they are and what is there.  Organizing them is on my mental to-do list.  :)  Someday.

Any books I have that are just too old for my little ones are boxed away.  I would love to have room to keep them out, but that is just not working here.  I do not let a small house stop me from planning ahead, though.  I still snatch up great books when I see them at Library and Garage sales.  There are few things more valuable then good books!

Shelves by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

WORKBOOKS AND OTHER SCHOOL BOOKS  I have these on a shelf of their own.  I found several dog-treat display boxes going to the trash at Wal Mart and snagged them.  They don't look very pretty but they keep the books all nice.  Workbooks are in one.  The other one has various things like my laminated play dough mats, art curriculum, folders containing printed lapbook pieces for SOMEDAY.

I have all of our booklets from Progressive Phonics in a cardboard box so they will stay nice.  I hope to use them for the rest of the children so I don't have to print and bind them all again.  I also stuck any little various paperback readers that I have, like my Bob Books, in here.

Other school books, such as our math and Greek books, are just stuck on the shelf.  I really work at keeping this to one shelf, so I have to purge this when it gets full.  I have a binder (a very ugly brown one) with dividers for math and phonics/handwriting.  I put worksheets that I print off, either from the internet or one of our computer programs, into the correct categories.  The children also each have a divider in here.  I put completed school papers that I want to keep in here.  I DO NOT keep much.  I keep all of Bop's math tests, and their notebooking pages.  I don't keep any worksheets or handwriting stuff.

ADULT BOOKS  Not in a bad way.  :)  Just books that aren't for children.  I have these in the living room.  Also organized by category.  Christian living.  Parenting and marriage.  Gardening and other how-to.   I have a huge box of Christian novels stored away because I can't bear to get rid of them.  :)

Shelves by warmfuzzies, on Pix-O-Sphere

PAPER  AND LAPBOOK THINGS  I keep all of our paper in horizontal magazine holders.  The paper bends if you keep them upright.  I have three- paper, cardstock and paper that has already been printed on one side for re-use.  (I re-use all my paper)  I also have all of my Bare Books on this shelf, to be made into lapbooks.  I keep in-progress ones here, too.  Keep it simple. 

You see that other box?  That plastic shoe box?  That's my junk drawer for paper.

I am not kidding.

That is where I stick papers that I do not want to deal with.  (I have no idea what is wrote on the front.)  I go through it every few weeks, and sort them out.  Most of them end up in the trash, but sometimes we are really busy and we don't have time to put together a lapbook that we are done with.... and that is where it goes.  Silly, I know.  But it keeps be from having a pile of papers on the table.  Sometimes you have to plan for the un-plannable.

I hope that this helps some of you who are being over-run with books.  I know that I finally just got to the point where I had to do SOMETHING.  They were taking over the house, literally.  Ask my husband.  I know that my system is not a pretty as some... it is too real to be pretty.  But it works.

What tips do you have for building a home library in a small house?


  1. I love this series of posts your doing! I have to say that I was blessed to have a home with 5 bedroom, 1 for all, 1 for guest/playroom and 1 for school...I am very thankful to have it. I wanted to add that you can purchase shoe cubbies from places like amazon or walmrart or anywhere really and use those for organizing workboxes/book/papers/what have you. I am buying 3 for our school room next year and hope to use one for workboxes and the other 2 for crafts or papers and things. Do you have any ideas for record keeping? I keep a bin full of things we have done this year, but its overflowing and I wanted to see if you have any ideas for keeping it together or do you just use a record keeping book? Blessings!!!

  2. Thank you for the great ideas! I have been working for a couple of years now just to have enough shelf space for everything, I am finally about there but it isn't organized at all. I will be using your ideas :0)

  3. Great ideas! We have several different bookshelves, but none of them are organized like yours. It has been on my to do list, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet!

  4. You know, I think I'm going to steal your junk paper box idea. That is great! Much better than shoving misc. papers in my desk drawer.

  5. I am one of those books by the thousands homeschool moms. I just estimated our latest count at near to 3000. My goal this summer is to catalog and organize them ALL,12 bookcases plus gobs of boxes elsewhere.


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