The bookcase is awesome. Here's a link to it in case you want it too!
This one is quick and relaxing (I promise!).
Sort your books.
Sort your own adult books, sort your kids' books, sort your neighbor's books (well, not really).
We want our kids to have lots of books to choose from - but also, we need to make it easy for our kids to choose books. So, as a teacher, I organized away. I made it predictable. I made it a routine. I made it accessible to choose appropriate books regularly.
And then, I re-organized with the kids when they came to school so it was a collaborative effort. They had some ownership and knew how the book organization system worked.
So, when I started getting books for Liliana's library, it was no different. I started sorting.
It shows Liliana that books are important - they do have a place to go. They matter enough to have a defined place. The only other thing in our house that is that important is the underwear drawer and we all know undies are a necessity most days.
It creates a mental schema for Liliana. That book goes with the other book right next to it, because they are always in the same bin or near each other on the shelf. Now she knows the Berenstain Bear books are all similar. She can find all of her number books in one spot. If she's looking for a "book with a sticker" she knows where to look. They are all together.
It keeps me sane when books are strewn about because I know they have a particular place to go when I do decide to pick up.
It shows me what gaps we have in our books.
Most classroom teachers will try to have a mix of these genres: Fairytales, Mysteries, Realistic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Informational, Autobiographis/Biographies, Poetry and Folktales/Fables.
Sometimes, if I had a lot of one author (Judy Blume, Gary Soto) or a lot in a specific area (Dinosaurs), they would get sorted into their own book basket.
So, start sorting!
2. Take your time. Even though this is a short tip, take your time. This might take you a few days or even a couple of weeks. That's totally fine.
3. Take note. After you sort your home library, you'll start to see gaps. Usually, kids don't have a ton of folktales and fables at home and sometimes historical fiction is left out in the cold too. You're looking for an even mix of fiction and non-fiction as well.
4. Use your notes to direct some new book choices. Now you know where you can provide more exposure for your kids. Likely, you have a lot in one genre because your kid likes that genre and so you've fed the interest already (that's great!). Keep that up.
Supplement their book choices in the future with the missing genres - create book wishlists so other people know what to get your kids, go to the library with a genre in mind to look at, share books with other friends who may have your missing books.
5. Maintain it! Once you've sorted your kid's books, maintain the system. Your child may be able to maintain it mostly on their own and so you can just check-in monthly. Or, you can maintain it until you feel ready to hand over your home library sorting to your child.
A note for baby, toddler and preschooler libraries...
Many little kid books are really Animal Fantasy books (talking animals!). But, you may also end up with other genres (Alphabet, Number, Shape, Colors, Goodnight books). You may have lots of certain authors (Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss) or you may have certain strong topic areas (Seasons/Weather, Holidays, Transportation, Potty Training).
In short, still sort away.
Ray Reutzel, D. and Clark, S. (2011), Organizing Literacy Classrooms for Effective Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 65: 96–109.