Initially, this was going to be my first tip. But I walked in Claude's room and saw her books overflowing and it felt overwhelming to me.
Long ago, it was pretty streamlined:
But, as she's gotten older we've added more books and she still reads her favorite board books. Fran also delivered her a big stack of books when his bookshelf was bursting at the seams. And soon Claude's shelves were overstuffed. I planned to photograph her shelves looking glorious. But the job felt too big. And so I thought, hmm...if this is making me feel this way, perhaps it's not a good choice for Tip #1, so I suggested "relax" instead.
Somehow, I got my organizational Mojo back. I tried again. And it got a little better. I pulled out some books I find unpleasant to read that I didn't think Claudia would miss. I left her new library books and an old favorite and returned the rest. I made sure some books were front facing so she could choose them by looking at the covers. I grouped the Van Fleet books, the Clifford books, the Maisy books, the Little Critters, the Boytons, the Frank Asch books, and the board books. Her favorites and ones I think she'd like next are down low. She can reach up to the third shelf (if she stands on the bottom ledge- thank you to Charlie our fabulous carpenter friend for building a sturdy bookcase and mounting it securely to the wall!) Some are too high for her- but less are out and she can find what she needs. And it's looking better.
Fran's room is doing OK. I'd like to have more of his books front-facing and grouped together, but until he has a taller bookcase we just don't have the room to spread them out. We do have some categories for his books: Star Wars books, just-right readers, library books, animal books, vehicle books, oversize books (off the shelves in a giant basket), and chapter books. His shelves are looking "spine-y" these days, but it's the best we can do with what we have right now. Like any kid, Fran can be a bit of a pack rat.
I also weaned our extra library book spots to one basket inside and one shelf on the porch. We are down to 125 things checked out across our family and my work projects (as a writing teacher, I check out a lot...) My personal work books are a mess: I still have piles from last year's Indy Institute and have scads scattered about my office and in the furnace room. I am starting to think I need a classroom to put all these books in...
Here's the thing: you can have too many books. It can be overwhelming when you can't find what you're looking for. Kids like it simple. But whenever I start really gleaning, I start thinking about all these great books I want my kids to know, like City Dog, Night in The Country or Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. And the shelves start to get stuffed again.