I used to organize our school books by subject area, but soon realized that this wasn't working out so well. My young children rarely remembered what book belonged on what shelf and so we were constantly looking for books and I found myself spending way to much time putting books back in their places.
I decided to divide the bookshelves by year and place all the required reading for that year together on one bookshelf. I put years 1 and 2 of our curriculum are on the lower shelves so the youngest children can reach them, years 3 and 4 are placed a little higher and so on. I write the year on the back bottom right hand corner of each book in small print with a black permanent marker. If I make a mistake, I can wipe it off with a little nail polish remover. This makes if very easy for the children to return books to the proper shelf.
Another thing I do is put a small colored sticky dot on the spine of each book that is considered 'Additional Reading.' This helps the the children know which books they can read whenever they wish as opposed to those that are scheduled. I use a different color dot for each year. Now my children never ask which books are for free reading.
All of our leftover books that are not part of a particular year are organized by subject. Art and music reference books are together. Field guides and general nature books are placed together above a shelf reserved for displaying outdoor discoveries. General reference books (Atlas, Encyclopedia, History timeline books etc... ) are grouped on one shelf. All my personal teaching reference books are together. I reserve the bottom shelves for our yearly notebooks-those big three ring binders. We also have bookshelves scattered throughout the house that hold other books.
We've used this system for several years now and like the simplicity of it. My children rarely need help finding or replacing a book and even the youngest know how to find what he is looking for. It has also been a great help to us whenever we have traveled during a school year and throughout all the many major household moves. Each child has everything she needs in one box. This is just one way to organize schoolbooks.
Here is another idea. Christie wrote me and shared her bookshelf system. It is a little bit like mine. This is what she wrote:
I have finally come up with an easy, realistic solution and
thought I would share just in case it might prove helpful to you as
your site has been so helpful to me. I bought white file folder labels, colored
them with sharpies and cut them into 3rds. Each book category got a
color and I went broad here. Blue - Bible, faith, devotionals, missionary
stories Purple - Picture books Red - The Arts Green - Science and Math Brown -
History, Biography, Geography Orange - Chapter books Silver - Holiday Books Board books - no label because they are unecessary :) I then put a small label on
the spine where the call number label is located.
This has had a TREMENDOUS impact on our reading and schooling. I can find anything now (unless someone's dropped it in a sofa cushion) and even my 4
year old knows where to put things away b/ c of the color coordination. It
is also very easy to tell whether a book is mine or borrowed. After I
completed this monumental task, which took about 3 afternoons with a
friend's help, another friend said that colored library book tape
exists. I'm not familiar with it, but so far my low tech, low expense
option is holding up well. Blessings and thanks again for the fabulous
Sincerely, Christie G.
If you would like to share a system that you are really pleased with, we'd love to hear your ideas in the comments section.
one step at a time...