Is It Possible to Organize Your Children's Books?

Yes, you can get organized.

If books are being read, you'll have to be flexible about your organization system. The picture you see above is a day of returning books to the basement. I'm organized but not too organized. Take what you can from how I try to stay organized. Everyone has to come up with a system that works for their own family.

There is a table in our livingroom for school library books and books I'm reading to my kids. When my children were younger I read three books a night, one for each child. We had a tub with books that were the right length for bedtime stories. The books in the tub were a combination of books I chose and books my children chose.

We keep a tub for public library books on the bottom shelf of a bookcase in our livingroom.

My children have a box of books next to their beds. We just went through the boxes a few days ago. They searched our collection of books in the basement and went through some books I purchased at a used book store to add new ones to their boxes. They kept some of their favorites for rereading. When they were younger most of the books were ones we read together once, and they reread for practice. They all seem to like reading new books now. Rereading books helped my children become fluent readers and improve decoding skills.

These are the books my children chose for their boxes recently.

It helps to have quick access to books a child has chosen and will enjoy reading. I make sure the books are at or below my children's reading level.


I organize some books in magazine boxes. I either write on the box or use a name tag for a label. The labels I have in use now are Eric Carle, Mercer Mayer, Berenstain Bears, Magic School Bus, Franklin, Clifford, Super Heros, Space, Sports, Halloween, Christmas, Snow, Colors, ABC's, Numbers, Animals Primary, Animals Intermediate, Bedtime Stories and Rhyming Books, USA Books, Jokes, Zoo Books, Fairy Tales and Folk Stories, Girl Books, Holidays and Songs, Maps and Travel, Poetry Books, Sea Creatures, Kid Magazines, Searching Books, Science, and Dinosaurs 

Here's the cupboard I keep the magazine boxes.

Each shelf fits two rows of boxes. If there are only four boxes in the front row, it's easy to slide the boxes around to see the labels of the boxes in the back.

Basement Book Shelves:
The top shelf has chapter books. The next shelf has a mix of informational books and biographies. The bottom middle two shelves have some of our favorite books, books that don't fit with a label, and some books that escaped their labeled box. (No problem. Maybe we'll return it to it's box someday.) The bottom shelf has two tubs with board books that can be pulled out for younger visitors. 

The shorter book shelf has two plastic boxes just the right size for chapter books at my children's reading levels grouped by author and a clear plastic tub with books for beginning readers. The bottom two shelves have three tubs for the students I tutor with reading and a tub for books my children have made themselves. (They've just started showing an interest in making their own books. I hope the box keeps them motivated.)

These next three pictures are the tubs of books I use for tutoring. I've given each book a colored circle, so it can be returned to the right box if my children want to read one of these books.

DRA levels 2 - 10 
Green Circle

DRA Levels 12 -20
Yellow Circle

DRA Levels 22 - 30
Red Circle

These are just some ideas. Feel free to share some of your own ideas in a comment.
I belong to a ning called WE TEACH. The subgroup "We Teach Reading" just had a great discussion on this topic.

My Favorite Phonics Books



Diana - Teacher Mom said...

This is a great post! I really need all the help I can get when it comes to organization. The labeled magazine boxes are a great idea. I don't think I'd have the patience to sort according to DRA levels just yet. Maybe when I'm off work in the summer and feeling extra ambitious... maybe...

Anyway, thanks for the Blog Frog add!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the comment. A little organization goes a long way. The most important part is making sure your kids can get their hands and ears on a good book!

Rachel said...

I love it! Really, your "disaster" looks like mine (maybe a bit cleaner). I love how you were able to clean and de-clutter the book area! Have the kids been able to maintain the "book cubbies"?

Michelle said...

Thanks for your comment, Rachel. I checked out your blog. http://quirkymomma.com/
It looks like you have three kids like me.

My kids are 6, 6, and 8. They maintain their favorite book boxes stored in their rooms. I usually help them find good books to put in their favorite boxes. (Younger kids could have a box of books for exploring and ones they want someone to read.)

It's nice for me to have some of the books sorted, so I can find the ones I want to read or have my children read. More than half of the books we own aren't sorted. They are in a bookcase for exploring. My kids take books out of boxes too. I don't tell them they have to put them back in the same place though.

We have a large basket in the livingroom upstairs for books we've been reading. When it's full we put them back downstairs. I'm usually in charge of putting them back in the right boxes.

It's good to be flexible and make reading books more important than organizing books.

Erin @ Letter Soup said...

Great organizational system! I love that you have books your kids wrote right there along with the others. It sends such a powerful message! I would love for you to post some of your pictures to my Print Rich Homes Flickr pool (http://lettersoupblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/show-and-tell.html) And be sure to include a link to your post. Thanks!

Michelle said...

I joined this group and added a photo. Thanks for the invite! I'm going to check out your blog.

Erin said...

Thanks so much for joining the group! It looks like you still need to add your photo to the group. I can see it when I go to your Flickr stream, but not when I view the group pool. (Sorry, Flickr isn't always the most intuitive.) I really appreciate it!

megherald said...

What a great idea about the magazine holders!