Home: Big Kid Bookshelves

About 100 years ago, my husband and I installed bookshelves in a lonely upstairs hallway. Uneven plaster walls were not our friend, and I think we blew a dozen crater-sized holes in our wall before we found the best process for anchoring the shelves to the walls. I even had to patch and repaint the whole wall. (Yes, had to, mom.) In the end though, we had bookshelves that added storage to our old house and beauty to our space.

Somehow though, as the shelves filled up, my kids grew up too. I’m not sure how that happened. Anyway, their reading these days is more chapter books than picture books and it was time for an update.

For the last few weeks I’ve been secretly buying books from thrift stores or used books from my favorite local bookstore, Schuler Books. At the thrift stores, children’s books are usually $.49. At Schuler’s the prices vary, but are still a fraction of what they’d be new. It has been so much fun collecting books this way. The other day I brought home six books for $.39 each. Some are for our home library and some are for the kids’ classroom libraries.

My favorite example of thrifting is James Patterson’s iFunny book series. My eleven-year-old son is inhaling those books, and so far I’ve managed to find four of the books for $.49 each. They retail for $13.99. Excluding tax, those four books would have been $55.95 retail. I paid $1.96.

In early January, when my kids went back to school, I was ready to tackle the job. First I emptied the shelves and sorted the books into two piles – keep or donate. That part wasn’t as hard as I expected – my feelings were pretty clear on what I wanted to keep. I never really read “The Kissing Hand” whereas I read Personal Penguin and The Gruffalo every single day.

Next, I dusted the shelves. And the tops of bedroom doors. And the baseboards. And the ceiling fan blades. All unrelated to the shelves, but I was on a roll.

Finally, I loaded the shelves back up with all my new finds (and a few we already had).

Now on the shelves you’ll find anything from a treasured picture book, fun chapter books (Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great), an atlas, a book from our travels, or a classic like To Kill A Mockingbird. I really love that the shelves stretch across time and genres.

Mom hack / secret tip – my son has a project in fifth grade called Challenge 25. Students are challenged to read 25 books across a group of genres. They must also complete a book report. At the end of the year they’re rewarded with a special prize. My son has kind of stalled out and lost interest. He’s almost halfway through and I don’t want him to quit now. So here’s the secret – I didn’t tell the kids I was doing this. I made the big switch while they were at school. My hope is they’ll notice it, see something interesting, pick it up and start reading. If something is my idea, they’ll never go for it. But if it’s their idea, it’s the best idea in the world and they’re going for it. So far so good – he’s gone through two more iFunny books since I made the switch. I’m hoping non-fiction is next.

🙂 Megan

Update – for everyone asking, the shelves are picture ledges from Ikea. Here is a link. Ours are a much older version and don’t have the ledge to hold a frame, but I think they’ll work the same.

2 thoughts on “Home: Big Kid Bookshelves”

  • I love the idea of making reading their idea! I often go to the library and dump a pile of books in the corner of our living room for the weekend. They end up sorting through and finding something they like all on their own, This usually happens after all the electronic time has been used up. Books are awesome! Sometimes they surprise me and choose something I chose for their brother or even for myself. My son once read an organizational book and promptly decided to clean his room. Amazing! Good work with the covert operations! Way to get those books within their reach!

    • Thanks, Jill! Great minds think alike. I love the idea of leaving a pile of library books in the living room. I’m going to try that! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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