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



Children Love Books Even More When They Know the Author

Check out these next two links:
You'll find over 100 video interviews with children's book authors here. Find an interesting author and check out a number of books from your library by that author. 
My family's local library has children's books organized by the author's last name. Sometimes my children and I chose one or two authors and checked out as many books as we could find from the authors. We kept the books for a month and read our favorites many times.

I'm excited to see an interview with Judy Blume. My eight year old son loved her book, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

If you like to get to know authors, you should follow the blog Happy Birthday Author. This blog celebrates different children's book authors on their birthdays. You'll find a ton of information, videos, books and links to resources about and by the celebrated author.

Have fun getting to know an author and enjoying reading with your children!



Magnetic Letters Can Help a Child Learn to Read and Spell Early

A child can read and spell simple words with magnetic letters . I gave my own children access to magnetic letters before they could write letters. We had so much fun, and they felt so smart.

Start slow with fun words. We were able to connect sounds to letters. It is important for children to hear and make sounds for letters and groups of letters. It felt more like play than teaching and learning. We didn't have to use terms like short vowel and long vowel. My children started to see patterns of the English language in a natural way.

no, go
mom, dad
me, he, she
dog, cat
moo, boo
moo, moon
boo, boom

Play with these words. Model making the sounds for the letters as you make words. Have the child make the sounds for letters as he/she makes words.
After a child knows these words well. Try mixing up the letters for two or three words and have only those letters available on a table, floor, or magnetic surface. Example: n, g, o, o, e, m  Ask the child to make the words: no, go, and me.  Another example: n, g, d, o, o, o, g  Ask the child to make the words: no, go, and dog.

When working with a very young child explain rules only if the child asks. This allows children to discover patterns for themselves. If the child starts to ask he/she is ready for the information you will give.

Here are some of the rules and patterns a child may learn from these words:
A vowel at the end of a word will make a long sound or say its own name.
A vowel trapped between two consonants will make a special short sound.
Sometimes two letters work together to make a new sound. (sh and oo)



Phonemic Awareness Games

Here are some games to help a child become aware of sounds in words.
Separating Sounds - Ask for things or say some words in everyday conversations with a pause between each sound. For example: “Can you get a (t)…(ow)…(el)? Did you remember your (l)…(u)…(n)…(ch)?”

Change Beginning Sounds - Be silly and make a different sound for the beginning sounds of some words while talking to a child. For example: “Let’s take the pog for a walk. Can you hand me that fencil, so I can make a grocery list? If the child doesn't notice, tell the child you said one word wrong. Repeat the sentence and see if the child can correct you.

Guessing Game - Choose a category: Farm Animals, Food, Pets, etc.
Examples- You say “I’m thinking of a farm animal.” Then separate the sounds. (c)…(ow) Leave some time between the sounds to make it more difficult.
Farm Animals- (h)…(or)…(se), (d)…(u)…(ck), (sh)…(ee)…(p), (ch)…(i)…(ck)…(e)…(n)

Food- (c)…(or)…(n), (p)…(i)…(ck)…(le), (h)…(a)…(m)

Pets- (d)…(o)…(g), (b)…(ir)…(d), (p)…(ar)…(o)…(t), (f)...(r)…(o)…(g)

If this is difficult, have the child stretch sounds with you. Say, “Let’s make the sounds together.” Stretch the sounds without leaving space between the sounds. hhhhh-orrrrr-sssssse, d-uuuuuuu-ck, ssshhhh-eeeeeeee-p, ch-iiiiiiii-ck-eeeee-nnnnn, c-orrrrrrrr-nnnnnnn, p-iiiiiiiii-ck-lllllllle, hhhhhhhhaaaaaaammmmmm, d-ooooooooo-g, b-irrrrrr-d, p-arrrrrrrr-ooooo-t, fffff-rrrrr-ooooo-g

Some sounds are fast sounds and will not be stretched. (t,d,b,k,g,p)

Let the child separate sounds and make you guess. When a child can guess words with the sounds separated and can separate individual sounds in words and make you guess, the child has developed a sense of phonemic awareness.



Children's Books for Beginning Readers

Carefully selected books for beginning readers can increase confidence and produce success. 
Are Phonics Books or Authentic Text Books Better For Beginning Readers?
Answer: Both

Phonics Books Can Be Good and Not Good for Beginner Readers 
Good: Reading phonics books gives a child practice paying attention to letter to sound relationships. The repeated phonics rules and patterns in phonics books give a child practice sounding out words. A child learns to pay attention to letter to sound relationships.
Not Good: However, if phonics books are the only books a child is given to read, there is a danger of a child becoming a word caller. Word callers are so interested in sounding out a word that they forget to think about the story. Some phonics books use unusual words or sentence structure to include similar sounds or phonics rules in one short story. When stories don't sound like how a person talks, many children aren't able to understand and enjoy the story. They become word callers, not readers.

Authentic Text Early Reader Books Can Be Good and Not Good For Beginner Readers
Good: Authentic Text or whole language books are stories written without attention to repeated phonics rules and patterns. Whole language books for early readers have simple language and are easy enough for a child to read most words. Many children learn a few sight words and can use sight word knowledge to help read these stories. There are strong picture clues and a flow of language that helps a child figure out difficult words. Many times a child is able to guess at a word. Children who read these stories are exposed to more words and real language.
Not Good: The problem with too many whole language books is that some children begin to rely on guessing at words, knowing words by sight, and ignoring letters instead of sounding out words. As a child gets older, books stop having as many picture clues. Books at higher levels have more and more words. Children can only memorize so many words before they need to start reading. Remembering a memorized word and reading a word using letter sounds requires a different part of the brain. Children are not able to pay attention to the story and keep switching back and forth. Some children figure out phonics and sounding out words without specific teaching or phonics books, but others don't. If you know a child who is guessing more than reading, please check out this page.

My favorite phonics based books are in a series written by Nora Gaydos called Now I'm Reading! Here's a video of my daughter reading a book from Now I'm Reading! On the Go Level 3 Each set has 10 books that stay neatly organized in the plastic sleeves of a hardcover case with a magnetic closure. Books can be removed and replaced easily. 

Children will love to practice their phonics knowledge, learn new sight words and use picture clues in these fun books with repeated language.
Brand New Readers Blue Set
Brand New Readers Purple Set
Brand New Readers Red Set

Starfall has free phonics books online with animations if you click on some of the pictures.

You might like I See Sam books.

Go to your local library and ask a librarian for help choosing books.