Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Organizing Those Homeschool Books

Someone asked me in the comments the other day how I had organized our books on our black shelves.  I'll tell you, I searched and googled that topic earlier in the summer. If there is one thing you end up with a lot of when homeschooling, it's books. And after a while, they can start to take over the house. I know homeschoolers who have bookshelves in every room of their house including the hallway!

Moving all the children's books into one place was the best thing I ever did. They now have no books in their bedroom except the one they read at night before bed. It really helps their room stay neater.

Now we do have other books--S has a bookshelf of Bibles and other "religious" books in our bedroom. And we kind of need another. One day, we will turn the toy room into a study and have all the books and bookshelves in one place. But then, one day we won't be overrun with Berenstain Bear books either.

Aw.  Sorry. I was looking for the bookshelf picture and found this. Little Bit was so proud she climbed up in that chair. Today she sat in that same chair and wrote a story about Tinkerbell that I could mostly read. Sniff. Sniff. 

OK back on topic. The shelf S built for our bedroom.

So after all my research on the best way to organize books, it came down to this:

You just have to go through and sort them. It's a messy process! First, we got rid of books. I held each book up and the girls said "yes" or "no." If the vote was split, we kept the book. We got rid of a nice stack of books that way. Some are listed on, many were just given away.

Then, we started putting like things together. Actually, this was where the girls wandered off to play and I finished. But they really did help for a long time.

Last, I had them carry stacks of books to me and I started putting them on the bookshelves where they would fit and not have to bust up a category.

Here is the end result:

Top shelves, L to R:
1. ABeka readers
2. boxed sets (Narnia, etc.)
3. Little Bit's Sonlight books
4. & 5. Sweetheart's Sonlight books

Next row:
1. Magic Tree House books/American Girl books
2. Health/Science/Social Studies books
3. Great Illustrated Classics
4. paperback series (Junie B. Jones, Cam Jansen and other paperbacks)
5. Classics and some volume sets

Middle row:
1. Early readers (Step Into Reading, etc. ordered by numbers)
2. easy paperback picture books (no order--just by size)
3. Little Golden Books, Bible storybooks, and Berenstain Bears
4. easy hardback picture books
5. more easy hardback picture books

Next row:
1. the "extra shelf". These were all the books we uncovered that didn't make it into the original sort!
2. books on various countries from Highlights sets, some reading testing materials I use
3. reference books
4. Sonlight binders
5. library books and clay that has no home

Bottom row:
1. photo albums
2. my books that will one day go on a shelf in our bedroom
3. books listed on paperback
4. drawing paper
5. school supplies

That's it. We don't exactly have a library going on over here, but what we have we can find easily. Of course I put the books Little Bit would be interested in at her level and harder books up higher. One day I am sure there will be no room for the extra stuff on the bottom shelves. Especially if we stick with Sonlight!

How do you handle all the books?


  1. Awesome! My hubby has a bookshelf in the bedroom for all of his religious books and Bibles, too! Maybe it's a man thing... I recently did a sort and purge, too, but my books aren't as nicely organized (I need some IKEA Cubbies!! I just have nowhere to put them)

    Now here's the big question - are you going to (or have you already) label the shelves?! So that everything actually goes back where it's supposed to?

  2. I have such a hard time getting rid of books, it's like a episode of hoarders. You open the cabinets under our entertainment center and expect to find DVDs or similar things and you find books. The boys have 2 bookshelves in their rooms that are full, I have a full one and the top of Allyson's dresser is full. We really should weed through what they've outgrown and donate it and try to downsize and sort through. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Thanks for answering my question! Lol about the clay that has no home! :) We have random stuff on our shelves too.

    So do you let the girls have free access to the books or do you have some kind of system in place for using and returning the books?

    I haven't heard of I'll have to go check that out. It sounds like a cool site!

  4. They do have free access (except their Sonlight books) and we do have a system but haven't really implemented it yet. Got this from a school library in college. Each child gets a paint stir stick (or a ruler) and you teach them to stick it in the space before they take a book out. The paint stick sticks out and you can easily see where to return the book.
    So far, they've done a good job of returning and this summer they mostly read off the library books shelf. We'll see how it goes. I have paint sticks if we need to use them.


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)