Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Photo courtesy Marsha from Other Such Happenings

I bet I’m not the only one who has a home overflowing with books. Sometimes it’s just really nice to have a book on-hand rather than going to the library all the time- especially when you have a small library and have to order in like we do.

But how do you store and organize all those books on your shelves so that you can use them efficiently? I know some folks use a service like Library Thing.  Some families use the Dewey-Decimal System to organize their home library. I’ve always figured that if I need to shelve the books in my home using Dewey Decimals, my husband would declare us once and for all to have too many books! So, I haven’t taken that step.

I do a combination of several systems at our house. First, I have a magazine wall rack which holds our reference materials- the atlases, subject encyclopedias, DK general books, dictionaries, thesauruses, spellers, and some Field Guides.

The other books I arrange by subject on the bookshelves. I use a color coding system to organize them together on the bookshelf.  I just colored plain white sticker labels in a small size and then stuck them to the bindings of the books. Purple- math, Green- science, Red- Social Studies

The books I use for instruction are on a different bookshelf and they are grouped together by subject area- usually there is room for two disciplines per shelf. On the very bottom of that bookcase, is where I keep seasonal picture books and our Five in a Row collections. I converted cereal boxes into magazine holders and I labeled them with winter, summer, spring and fall. I also have a box for Five in a Row, Before Five in a Row, and Beyond Five in a Row books. On another bookcase I have boxes for alphabet books, Henry and Mudge Books and a few other series we’ve collected over the years.

I keep biographies, Newberry honor books, and other chapter favorites in shoebox bins on the shelf so the kids can flip through them. That strategy is a favorite of mine because it turns the book covers out. The other books on the shelves, but not really organized other than not being in any of those other categories. I am pretty good about remembering where a book is and pointing children in the right direction or pulling them myself. I have dinosaur books, train books, and stencil books together, but they aren’t labeled as such.

Our kids keep their favorite books on their gutters! Jim Trelease is a big advocate of using rain gutters to hold books so that kids can see their covers. We have a set of those in our boys’ room and each child has one next to their bed for tucking away their favorite titles. We have a large bookcase in our living room which holds special books.

This system has worked wonderfully for us. I really only see one problem… I need more bookcases! OK…I’d settle for one more. I need a half size bookcase, but not a narrow one, that would be for library books only.  My book organization dream would come true if I could have a bookcase, just the right size that would hold all the library books we have out at any given time.

Our many books provide a print rich environment for our children and allow them to explore many topics and places. The key to having lots of books is making sure they are somewhat organized. If you have another way to organize books, please leave a comment and share it with us!

Heather is a homeschooling mom of four kids ranging from middle school to preschool and wife to a handsome chemical engineer. Before raising a family, she taught middle school science (with a BS in biological sciences) and has a masters degree in curriculum and instruction secondary education. Now teaching at home means the chance to provide the extraordinary for her children. She’s been homeschooling five years and you can read about those adventures on her blog, Blog She Wrote.

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2 comments

  1. Marti Haslauer July 15, 2012 at 10:13 am -

    This is probably obvious, but I can’t quite visualize what you mean by a shoe box bin on the shelf with the books facing out.

    Also, I would love to see a picture of the rain gutters being used for books. What a great idea.

    Thanks for sharing your book organization idea. It is high time for some of this at my house.

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