My husband and I were so proud when we bought our first bookshelves with all but about 20 books to put in them. But our dream of filling them through our marriage was the idea we fell in love with. Then we had a baby, and then we had four babies. And as soon as our babies started to move around they would grab onto the ledge of the bookshelves and discover there’s something actually on the bookshelf – which is now all over the floor. And this can go on for years and then repeat with each child. So rather than going crazy and creating even more back problems from all the picking up I decided to change how we use the bookshelves.
In our living room we have shared bookshelves. Most of them are made up of my dad’s life long book collection (and this is only a portion of it) and we have one dedicated to our family. Here’s a picture of my dad’s bookcase.
Definitely NOT child friendly and a big no-no for my kids to touch, which we have had to train them to do. But here is a picture of our bookshelf.
Seeing as it is open storage I wanted it to be a place where the kids could get the things that they needed without having to ask me for every book, pencil and piece of paper. So I divided it over four levels.
Level 1 is the bottom shelf. This is for my youngest and has all the board books in baskets for her to reach and easily put away herself. There’s also a basket of notebooks and scrap paper so any of the kids can get some for doodling and all those ‘lists’ they have to make (this is a favourite for my son).
Level 2 is where the older books are. Stacked like normal books and accessible for my older children who are able to put them back in this same way.
On Level 3 I keep ‘supplies’ along with a few pretty things. Pictures of my kids and tins and tubs of pencils, pens and crayons and a few other toys. This is only for my two oldest to be able to reach. Then I have the nappy basket there for my own easy access filled with nappy sacks, wet wipes and nappies. I don’t keep this on the bottom even though its used for my youngest because she would spend all day pulling out every single item.
Level 4 is adults only and I keep things that need to be out of reach from the kids but still at an arms reach for easy use, like the board games.
I hope this gives you a few ideas of how you can change up or improve the functionality of your bookshelves. Don’t drive yourself or your child crazy by having valuable or breakables in easy reach. You do not want to be spending your entire day saying ‘no’ for the sake of your bookshelves. Using bookshelves for the whole family helps keep your sanity while encouraging your child to read and have more independence.