Why and How We Rotate Books

Do you ever wonder why your children don’t seem excited to grab books off of your shelves full of amazing and wonderful reads more frequently? Did your children, like mine, receive so many new books for the holidays that you’re not really sure what to do with them? Are you, like so many people these days, trying to embrace a more minimalist home? If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then read on for a wonderful solution…

You can implement book rotations in your house! You may already have a similar system in place for toys, through which you store some toys out of reach and sight, allowing your children to focus more on the fewer toys out and accessible at any given time. Did you know you can do the same with books? And, that there are many wonderful benefits for developing readers? When you rotate books:

  • Your children will be less overwhelmed by the sheer number of books on the shelf. The paralysis you might see when they stand there, trying to choose bedtime book, will decrease, and choices will be made more quickly.
  • Your children will be more excited about the books they can choose from. When we switch books out, whether from one room to the next or from the “put away” stash to the available book on the shelf, it’s like the books are completely new and exciting, though we may have had them for years. But since the girls may not have seen or noticed these books in a while, they’re thrilled to see them again.
  • You’ll see an increase in excitement about reading, especially if your rotation includes forward-facing books (we LOVE our forward-facing shelf, but you can simply stand books up with the cover out on a standard bookshelf as well) that change each time you rotate books.
  • You have the ability to plan for and pull books according to specific themes (such as holidays, nonfiction animal books, poetry, alphabet books, etc.). My girls are always extra focused on these themed books when I bust them out.
  • You have fewer books out at one time that must be reshelved after fun reading sessions. Clean up time is that much easier!
  • You are able to more easily see what types of books your children are reading, as well as what books they’re avoiding. This makes it easier for you to gently nudge children towards different genres or themes in books. It also makes it easier for you to purge books, because it’s easier to see which books your children are no longer interested in.

So how do you actually start a book rotation in your house? The details will vary depending on your house, how many bookshelves you have, and what kind of out-of-sight storage is available. Here is how we rotate books in our house:

  • We have children’s books on 3 bookshelves (both girls have small bookshelves in their rooms, and we have one forward-facing bookshelf in the play area of our main room) in our house, and usually also in one book basket by the couch.
  • While we don’t have a ton of extra storage space in our house (no basement or attic here, and a one-car-garage full of strollers and bikes…), we are fortunate to have fairly big closets in the girls’ rooms. Their closets both have one long shelf across the middle, and I usually use half of each of the closets for book storage. In one closet, I store themed books; the other is simply picture books that are currently out of the rotation. I store all of our holiday and seasonal books in boxes in the garage along with decorations and activities.
  • Approximately once every 1-2 months (ideally, I’d rotate each month… but realistically, that doesn’t happen!), I switch our books up. I pull books off of the girls’ shelves that we’ve read a lot in the last few weeks and move them to the closet. I then look at the picture books that have been out of rotation for a while and move some back to the shelves. Sometimes my choices are random, sometimes I’m looking for specific social-emotional lessons that we’re working on with the girls, sometimes I pull all of our books by a certain author or illustrator… Just depends on the month!
  • However, I switch the books on our front-facing shelf more frequently. Those books get TONS of action, since that shelf is in our main living space and front-facing books are incredibly appealing. I put holiday or season books on this shelf 2 to 4 weeks before the given holiday or season, allowing us ample time to dive into those books as we prepare for whatever the occasion is. I also put books around certain themes we’re learning about on this shelf. For example, a few weeks before we go to the beach, I’ll load the front-facing shelf with ocean books; a few years ago, I realized my older daughter was terrified of dinosaurs, so we collected some dinosaur books, filled that shelf, and spent some time with both friendly and informational dinosaurs.

Do you have a book rotation system in your house? What tips can you share to help others get started?

3 thoughts on “Why and How We Rotate Books

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