Books and What to Do with Them (Zone Defense)

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On Zone Defense this month, we’re tackling living spaces. Books play a big part in how we live, so let’s get them organized and avoid the visual and physical clutter.

As a family of book lovers and folks who do school at home, we have a lot of books. A lot.

Over the years I’ve tried to pare down our collection to those that we love, that we really need for school, or that are difficult to get from the library. We also like to give the kids books for birthdays and Christmas so that they can start building their own personal libraries.

There’s just something sweet and comforting about a well-loved and well-worn hard copy book. While we have a Kindle, an iPad, and numerous devices on which to read electronic books, I still love being able to turn a physical page. So, I don’t think that we’ll ever really say goodbye to real live books.

Who would want to?

But what to do with all those books?!

That said, books do take up space and can contribute to the clutter in a household if not organized and corralled in someway. Here are several different means that we use for organizing and storing our books.

1. Deep storage

Some of our books are those that are not needed on a regular basic, but are those that we dig out for a certain season. Many of our music books, holiday books, and school books which are designated for a certain grade level or subject are stored in boxes on shelves in our garage.

Since we live in a temperate climate, our garage rarely gets too hot or too cold, so this works for us. When we lived in Kansas, I stashed these boxes in the backs of closets.

Keeping these books that we reference once a year or once every few years in boxes helps relieve visual clutter on the shelves and helps me find them when I really do need them.

2. Book shelves

We have tall bookcases in my office, the school room, and in the aforementioned garage. We try to store books as close to the place of use as possible. So, personal and writing books go in the office, school and library books in the school room, and pleasure reading or other general school books that we want to reference on a regular basis go in the garage.

Bookshelves are a tricky thing. I love the looks of them, but kids, lazy or otherwise, have a hard time putting books back on the shelf in a way that lends itself to neatness. Just saying.

Our school shelves need to be straightened regularly, so that they don’t look like a jumbled mess. But, I’ve got some people that are now old enough to take on the task.

3. Sterilite boxes

Years ago I read in an organizing book about making things easier to put away that take out. It’s a brilliant idea if you can pull it off. One way that we do this with children’s books is to store them in Sterilite boxes on the book shelves. It’s easier for little hands to toss them into the box than to line them up on a shelf. And to retrieve a book, they just need to flip through the box like in a card file.

Keeping storybooks in these boxes also makes it easy to pull out a box to use in the car or bedroom or some other place in the house for easy reading.

This year we’re on Zone Defense, moving room by room, tackling clutter and disorder. This month we’re closing in on living spaces. Check out the month’s general assignment or browse the archives to see previous months’ assignments

How do YOU organize your books?

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  1. Oh, books! We have thousands and I’m constantly trying to get rid of some. My husband recently reorganized the house, and now the bookshelves are totally jumbled. I’m still trying to get rid of books before I tackle the huge task of organizing them all, because it’s the one upcoming task I dread.

  2. I love your tip about putting books in plastic storage boxes! I can’t wait to do this. We have mass confusion on our book shelves because the kids are not good at standing them up to put them away. Thanks for the great tip!

  3. We do most of the same things you mentioned. I bought one of those fabric drawers designed for shelves for DS to keep on his bed to hold the books he’s looking at before falling asleep.
    I’m kind of particular about how they’re kept on the shelves-they need to be arranged by topic, but sometimes the size of a book messes up that system!

  4. The current selection of board books is in a wicker basket in the family room. The rest are in a box in the closet. I rotate the board books every two months or so–except for “red hat, blue hat” it is the most favorite of all time.

  5. I have been waiting for this flash of brilliance from someone – the sterilite box idea. We had piles stacked on the floor of the living room, and I finally moved the piles to my husband’s office in the attic. Now there are not piles – they are spread out in a big mess all over the attic floor. The boxes will be perfect because all my three can manage to put them away in that kind of set up. Thanks!

    1. Well, it wasn’t my idea but I can’t remember whose it was. It is extremely helpful.

  6. my children have threatened me not to bring one more book into this house, and yet….. 🙂 so i’m looking at an e-reader! lol ok 100+ cookbooks might be a little much! i giggled as i went through the local homeschool fair yesterday, books everywhere! the local libraries book store is one of my favorite places (they sell books they are done with and books they have to many of) – ok i love books, which is why we have book shelves everywhere! (ok not in the bathroom)

    the first time my children went to their dad’s for a week in the summer, they came home to a brand new, mom built, huge book case in the living room – 7 foot long 8 foot high, and full! — i ditched the old souder press board book cases

  7. We have 8 bookshelves and 2 chest for our books.Keeping them from looking too messy is a weekly job.