Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Storing and Displaying Children's Books

My house is overrun with books. I don't just mean one here or there, but truly, they are spilling over in our bedrooms, living room, playroom, and even in the car. When I clean our house, half the battle is putting books away.

This is entirely my fault. When I make my own birthday list or ask for gifts for our kids, my requests are primarily books. Every grandparent sends at least one book per child at every birthday and Christmas. My mom started a monthly "Nana's Book Club" at my suggestion. I spend all my extra dollars on books for myself.

It should come as no surprise that books dominate our home's shelves and floors and tables and closets.  I've tried many different ways of storing them through the years, but always struggled to find enough room for our growing collection. I weed out books occasionally, but how do you give away a book?! Even Marie Kondo has to admit that books spark joy.

Our new-to-us home here in North Carolina finally seems to have met my challenge for a book-friendly house. We have built-ins in our bedroom, living room, and office, plus I've added more shelves in our formal living-room-turned-library.

Today I have a few tips for you on storing and displaying your books. It can be a challenge to know where to put all those beloved books, so I hope this helps!

Keep Like Books With Like

Tell me I'm not the only one who has promised a book to a friend, only to search my whole house and come up empty. I store books all over my home, and with so many places to look it can be difficult to find a specific book. With our move last summer, I decided to generally store similar types of books together. For me, this means adult books on our bedroom shelves, books about our careers (in our case engineering and counseling) in the office, and children's books in the library/playroom. I also try to use each shelf for a theme, like parenting, or fiction, or elementary chapter books, so that my kids or I can look in one spot for similar types of books. I don't stick to this rule religiously, but I have found it makes finding books easier!

Print is a card from Gracelaced, succulent is from Target, bowl is old from Crate & Barrel

Decorate With Books

Books are my favorite accessory for my home. They are beautiful, colorful, and useful- the perfect way to fill shelf space. To begin, I usually grab a stack of books that match my color scheme or are just really pretty. Sometimes I'll grab books by a similar theme, but often I simply choose books I love. I find candles, fake plants, and framed art go well with books if you are looking to style a shelf in your home.

Make Reading Easy

My children and I read more when we can grab a book easily and quickly. For this reason, I usually keep a stack of books on our coffee table and end tables. I'll often scatter library books around the house for anyone to pick up and read.

I also have a dedicated space in my children's rooms for a few books. This doesn't have to be fancy, just a spot where they can enjoy a book when they're in the bedrooms. For Theia (15 months), I have a couple Indestructibles books I keep near her crib and I hand her one at nap time. I especially love these because she can't ruin them. Trust me, board books get SO MUCH LOVE in a crib! For Tessa (4) I cleared a shelf in her closet's built-ins for a few books. She often wanders up to her room with books, so to clean up at bedtime I have her fill the shelf, then return any extras back to the playroom. For Eli (7), I have a stack on his nightstand and a "bookshelf" balanced between his bedpost and spare mattress at the foot of his bed. Remember, form over function! The goal is for our kids to be reading, not for it to look perfect.

Store Books Within Reach

While I do love keeping books all around my house, I find having most of our children's books in one specific spot is the best option for true book storage. We converted our front room into a library, so it has a couch, two bookshelves, Eli's homework desk, a reading chair, and the Lego table (it opens right into the playroom). These bookshelves are the primary home for all our children's books.

When I store the books, I do it so that each child has access to age-appropriate books. This means board books on the bottom shelves, picture books next, then chapter books on the higher shelves. I want my kids to walk or crawl right up to the books that are at their current reading level.

Display Books for Your Children

I've hear from many different sources recently that kids respond better to books with covers facing out than to a stocked shelf with the spines facing out. I've tried this myself and found it to be true. With my move to consolidate books to certain locations in our home, the bookshelf in the playroom was freed up for my to try this idea. I've begun displaying a few selected books face-out for my kids to explore. I change out the books every few days, giving them a chance to finally read our library of children's books. It's also a fun way to focus on a particular theme, season, or holiday by choosing specific books. Plus, this gives me a chance to read-aloud something other than Curious George every. single. day.

How do you display your books? Do you have any tips or tricks?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Hidden Days of Motherhood

Has anyone else been sick for days and days? We haven't been able to kick this round of sickness for a couple of weeks now. All five of us have gone down, and I'm the final casualty. Today I can barely talk, which doesn't work well when I have to keep little people alive. 

I find that sickness pulls me back toward home, into a reflective mood and quiet days. The busyness of life gives way to unexpected days at home and cancelled plans. This has felt really lonely. It has also been much-needed. 

I was talking with my sister and a close friend last week about how difficult motherhood can be. I often feel unseen and unimportant. I feel constantly frustrated with the complaints and needs of my children. I know in my head that being home with my children matters, but in the everyday diaper changes, nose wipes, and time-outs, it often doesn't feel that way. In both conversations, my sister and friend reminded me that seasons of quiet, unnoticed work matter to God. My sister pointed me toward God's name "El Roi" which means the God who sees me. (I've been diving deep into this name of God and have so much more to say about it soon.)

In the hidden days of motherhood, isn't it a gift that God sees us? Our long days don't go unnoticed to him. He celebrates or victories and draws us near when there are tears. I hope today you can grab hold of the comforting presence of God in your smallest, dirtiest, loudest moments.