Organizing Your Homeschool Library

Blog, She Wrote: Organizing Your Homeschool Library 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. 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.

I like how the boxes let me see the covers of the books- a cool way to turn books out on a normal shelf

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

Green is science
Red is Social Studies
Math is marked with purple

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.

Five in a Row books (all levels). These homemade boxes might look stressed, but I’ve had them for 6 years or more…not bad for a generic cereal box.
Some social studies and science on my shelf- I’ve got a little Janice VanCleave collection going.
Ok I moved the shot a bit and got more of the science end of the shelf.
One of my shelves- art and social studies type books are on here

Our kids keep their favorite books on their gutters! (click to see) 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!

25 thoughts on “Organizing Your Homeschool Library

  1. I have color coded our books before, but NEVER thought about using the plastic boxes to turn the small books covers-out! Thank you SO much for this idea! :D I think I'm going to tear into our book shelves soon…..

  2. I love the box idea, too! Can you post a picture (or a link) for the magazine wall thing? It seems like maybe I've seen it before, but I can't remember.

  3. Great post Heather! I am in the midst of re-organizng our bookshelves. We've been using plastic boxes for a couple of years for our chapter books more out of making use of small spaces than anything else! Just yesterday I moved all of our reference books into the kitchen to a shelf just under the island of my kitchen for easy access! I am loving it!

  4. I like your ideas on organizing books.Currently our bigger problem is we keep buy books and are running out of shelf space. In the past we've just bought more bookshelves, but we're running out of space for bookshelves.

  5. Color-coding is a good idea. That would help my crew get them put back in the correct spots. Thanks for sharing the pics. Do you ever have troubles with the stickers getting sticky or coming off? I haven't used boxes on shelves that have the books facing out at this point, although I've seen that done at a used bookstore w/children's books and thought it could work well. I've used baskets/bins on the floor at various times, and currently have just one basket there for board books and other books for my littlest to look at.

  6. I keep my favourite/in use books in a modified mini box-shelf. The other books are on the shelves arranged neatly but not really organized. Maybe I can apply some of your ideas.

  7. When I taught I color coded my books by level (red was 1st, orange was 2nd, yellow was 3rd, etc.), but I also had them in groups like you and each group was numbered and had a numbered location to put them back in. Worked out great. I'll be homeschooling for the first time next year and even though my home library is pretty organized, I'm looking to change it up a bit. Thanks for this post!

  8. Too funny about the Dewey Decimals. I am a huge bookworm, but if we had enough books to make this possible, it wouldn't be my husband, but me who would decide that we had too many books. Your gutter shelves are on my "honey-do" list. Thanks for the great post.

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