So, a few weeks ago my sister organized a little nook in her game room with her old teaching books and totally inspired me to do the same. I also used to teach and knew I had numerous bins up in the attic filled to their brims with books. I also had this wall of shelves in our piano room that was just filled with random decor and stacks of unread magazines. Thus, the plan for our Little Home Library was born! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out…plus the girls are reading more than ever, which is always a plus!
SETTING UP THE LIBRARY:
- Clearing- The first thing I did was clear the shelves and put aside the (very few) items that I wanted to keep. I couldn’t believe how much of the stuff on those shelves was just “filler junk”! Disclaimer: photo was taken AFTER I started dismantling the shelves…I’m not a complete savage! 😉
- Sorting- Next I went into the attic to bring down my book bins. I had completely underestimated how many books I had up there! I sat on the floor and sorted through every single solitary book. It took me days! I made sure to keep age appropriate books, books that were classics and good/clean reads, books that were in good shape, books that were educational, and books I knew my kids could grow into. I made a “toss” pile that included any duplicates, books I didn’t think were age appropriate, books in bad shape, and books that looked dated or had content I wasn’t sure I wanted my kids reading. Then I made a “maybe” pile. The next step was to sort my “keep” books into genre piles. I then looked at each genre I had created and pulled from the “maybe” pile if any piles were looking a bit sparse.
- Donating- There is SUCH a great need for books out there, so I made sure that every single book in my “toss” pile was donated. Most went to Human Rights Initiative, a local non-profit that recently had all of their books stolen from their waiting room and “lend a book” library.
- Containers- After I had my general “genre” piles made I headed out to my motherland, aka The Container Store. I made sure to measure my shelves before I went so I knew the depth and height of each shelf and most importantly, the length so I could measure how many bins would fit across. I chose a selection of all white, grated metal and straw baskets. I wanted to use mixed materials to give the shelves more dimension. I also found some great labels and book display items at Container Store. I’ve linked them all below.
- Setting up Shop- When I got home, I played around with where I wanted all my empty baskets to go. Once I liked the way they were arranged I started filling them with books. I made sure to get all different sized baskets because not all of my genres had the same amount of books. (For example I had a TON of Fantasy and Mystery books but only a small handful of biographies.)
- Decorating- I then went in and filled in some of the empty spaces with decor. I used a book display, a small plant, and a letter board. I wanted to break up all the bins but also keep the shelving unit clean and simple. I also replaced the hardware on the drawers. It was a cheap fix and (I think)gave the unit a huge facelift!
Ta Da…Here’s the whole finished product:
Don’t have extra wall space or a ton of books? That’s totally fine! You don’t need either to start your own home library! There are some great cubby systems you can purchase like THIS one from Land of Nod that don’t take up much space and can still be easily turned into a library. Also, it’s ok for libraries to take years to build!
Here are some tips for starting an at-home library from scratch:
- Start with gathering up books from around your house (I’m sure you have more than you think lying around!)
- Purchase a few new books at your child’s reading level. There are great places like Half-Priced Books (or any used book store and/or flea market) where you can get books for cheap. Not in the budget? Go to your local library and check out a whole bunch of books, plop them into your at-home library and then cycle them out after you find your child “getting sick” of them.
- Books are a great gift idea! Especially with the holidays coming up…create a book wish-list with your little ones. Get them excited about books and reading by changing their mindset of how much fun books can be.
- Think outside your typical wheelhouse. Your kid loves the Fancy Nancy books? Great. But also introduce him/her to some books from drastically different genres. You never know if your kid is interested in something until you expose them to it! Grab them a National Geographic book on animals and maybe a picture book about the 50 states or outer space, or maybe an awesome book of poetry for kids. You might be surprised by which books your child reaches for, given some options!
- Start with just a few genres, maybe 3-5, and then gauge your child’s interest and build your library up accordingly! A few great starter genres: Fiction Picture Books, Non-Fiction Books, Holiday Books, Chapter Books (for reading aloud together).
- Cycle Books in-and-out. Always keep some books tucked away so that your kid’s choices aren’t so overwhelming and they never get tired of their selections! This is especially fun with holiday books! My kids only get to look at the Halloween books when I take them out in the Fall and it makes them that much more excited to read them!
- Swap with a friend! Take on this project with a friend/neighbor and cycle out your books by swapping with each other. When your books need a “time out” from your house, send them on over to your friend’s library and have her give you a bin in return. Viola, brand new books for your kids to borrow! Just make sure you take good care of them and return them in the shape you received them! 😉
- Have fun with it…make it into a REAL mini-library, complete with a book return bin, some fun signs, a few books out on display (rather than stacked), etc. I’m in love with these super adorable book stickers I had made on Zazzle! There are so many cute options, and an especially good idea if you plan on sharing books with friends!
- Remember: An In-Home Library doesn’t have to be extravagant! It can be as simple as any little space dedicated to displaying and storing a few books at your child’s level!
CONTAINERS AND BINS
All are from The Container Store. I’ve linked them below!
Don’t forget to check back in for “Part Two” where I’ll share all the category bins I created, some book/series recommendations for each genre, a fun blog share with a fellow book-nerd mama AND a fun giveaway…stay tuned and make sure you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss anything I’ve got coming up (including my Thanksgiving book picks)!
Girls cute dresses from The Little Spoons
Letterboard & letters from Hobby Lobby
Step Stool is a vintage hand-me-down
Tent from Land of Nod (no longer avail, but similar HERE)
Halloween shelf decor from Paper Source