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great tips on how to organize (and when to get rid off) kid books

POYEL: Organizing Children’s Books

Hi friends, I know I promised you a big eBook reveal today but, alas, technical difficulties have arisen.  Hopefully all will be well and back on track soon. Until then – here’s Annie with a new POYEL project!

We know it can be difficult for many people (read: parents) to part with treasured children’s books, even if their kids have long since outgrown them. Children’s books are one of the few instances in which I just can’t condemn such sentimental attachments to material belongings; I have a major soft spot for children’s books, as does the rest of my family, and, in fact, we still regularly gift them to each other.

But just as children outgrow clothing at a rapid pace, so, too, do they outgrow books. All children’s books are not created equal, nor are they intended for every age. It’s important to regularly edit the contents of your children’s bookshelves to ensure that they continue to have access to books that cater to their current reading level or developmental stage.

Conduct a yearly or bi-yearly book edit, wherein you remove all the books from the shelves, and analyze each individually. You may wish to involve kids in this process depending upon their age.

If you have more than one child, edit all bookshelves at the same time, that way you can shift between offspring accordingly: books outgrown by the oldest can be passed down to the youngest, and so on.

I would urge you to distinguish between those nostalgia-books and the books in the current reading rotation. Remove the dearly loved and retired books from the shelves, and opt instead to store them in something like this Clear Watertight Tote or this Plastic Book Storage Box. Doing so will ensure the books stay protected from the elements, and that they won’t be occupying prime shelf real estate.

Rather than give all the outgrown books to cousins or to friend’s children, I would encourage you to just pass along the few really treasured reads— perhaps the more obscure titles or longer chapter books that they’re less likely to already own. Most families you know will probably have a bevy of books. Resist dumping your book load onto loved ones, who are probably trying, themselves, to keep their kids’ bookcases under control.

If you’re interested in donating gently used children’s books, you can certainly utilize the common charitable organizations such as Salvation Army or Goodwill. You might also check with your local library to see if its currently collecting books for donation. If you’re interested in donating to more book-centric charities, you can look into:

Books For Africa

This organization has one goal in mind–to end the book famine in Africa by distributing books to children of all ages. Since 1988, its shipped over 28 million books to 49 different countries. Be sure to review the book donation guidelines, as there are some limitations on what they’ll accept.

Better World Books

Better World Books will gladly accept your gently used books at one of its many drop-off bins around the country. If you don’t live near a bin, Better World Books will provide a shipping label, and all you have to do is box up your books and send them on their way. The organization then sells books through its online marketplace, raising funds for non-profit literacy organizations. It has re-used or recycled over 80 million pounds of books and raised over $10 million for global literacy and local libraries.

When you’ve finished conducting your routine edit, you’ll be ready to return books to the shelves. When doing so, the most important factor to keep in mind is height; the books that children are most likely to read on their own should be on the lowest and easiest to reach shelves, while books intended to be read by parents or adults to children can be kept higher up.

Good luck organizing, and be sure to let us know what book makes your list of most important reads.

Til next time!

*Post contains affiliate links.



P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and save time? Follow these 3 steps:

1) Check out our Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life 2016 Printables and our Kids' Responsibility & Money Management Kit : over 50 pages of 2015 daily/weekly/monthly planners, cleaning schedules, meal planners, kids’ routine charts, budgeting sheets and much more!

2016 POYEL Printables
Kids Responsibility & Money Management Kit


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Annie Traurig is a professional organizer and the founder of Live Simply. She works with clients locally in Seattle, as well as worldwide through virtual services, teaching them to expel the extraneous and instill their lives with lightness, laughter, and ease. She believes complication is avoidable, the clarity of priorities is freeing, aesthetics are paramount, and humor is the ultimate necessity.