How to Organize a Child’s Bookshelf


I don’t think it’s possible for a child’s bookshelf to stay well organized for long.

And that’s probably a good thing.

We want our kids to use their books, to pull them off the shelves and spend time with them. We wish they would put them away properly, but at least they’re reading, right? Tips for how to organize a child's bookshelf.

Part of the trouble with the bookcase in my daughter’s room is that is has also been a receptacle for toys and games as well as books. Not necessarily things that get used regularly, but things I wasn’t quite sure where else to put.

I’ve been working on the girl’s room this month, and I recently hit the bookshelf and found that it’s really not all that difficult to organize a child’s bookshelf if you have a system and some time to work on it. Tips for how to organize a child's bookshelf.

How to Organize a Child’s Bookshelf

Step one: clear off all the things that are not books. The girl’s shelf had random little toys, a whole shelf of games, puzzles, even a never-used lunchbox, in addition to the books. Clearing those things away helps you see what you’re dealing with. Tips for how to organize a child's bookshelf.

Step two: organize the books. You might not have to take every book off the shelf, but I took a lot of them off. I started with general categories like picture books, chapter books and crafty books, then made series-specific piles for things like Magic Schoolbus and Arthur books. Tips for how to organize a child's bookshelf.

Step three: decide what remains. Honestly, she never does puzzles or plays games in her room, so I could regain a whole shelf by moving those things somewhere else in the house. I decided to let the little dollhouse stay (for a while, I’m not actually sure she will play with it) and some art supplies, coloring books and the like. I also brought in more books from a shelf in the living room, which may allow me to put some books and puzzles or other toys there. Tips for how to organize a child's bookshelf.

Step four: try to keep it up. I know this is not easy. You saw my before, right? But it is immensely easier to maintain a good-looking space than it is to clean it up over and over. In the future I will try to remind my daughter (who is old enough to take care of her books) that there’s a right way to put books back on the shelf, and it will likely be a condition of getting reading before bedtime that we make sure that space is straightened up.

Keeping a Shelf in Good Order

Maintenance of a child’s bookshelf also includes regularly – at least a couple of times a year – going through the books and rotating out ones that are too young for your child or that aren’t getting read regularly.

I didn’t really do that this time because the shelf has been such a mess it has been hard to find things. And I’m not completely willing to give up the picture books, even though she hardly looks at them anymore. Sob.

Do you have tips for how to organize a child’s bookshelf and keep it looking good? I’d love to hear them!

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