Sunday, February 9, 2014

Book Bins

Every January, for at least the past three years, I get in the mood to organizing...EVERYTHING! Part of that involves daydreaming about creating a flawless rotating system for our learning toys. I LOVE the idea of toy rotating. Keeping fewer toys out at a time provides for deeper engagement, helps with organization and minimizes the overwhelming feeling little ones may have when faced with an abundance of toys.  When it's time to rotate, toys have the feeling of becoming brand new all over again. How exciting is that?! This post does a great job explaining some of the benefits to toy rotating. 

It sounds oh, SO wonderful but unfortunately I have yet to fully accomplish it. :/ It's a work in progress over here. For some reason I find it slightly intimidating. Maybe because there are few steps involved in-which I'd really like to start AND finish all at the same time and well, time doesn't lend itself well to that right now. Perhaps one day though, one day soon. :) 

When I thought however, about applying the same idea to our collection of books the task didn't seem quite as daunting. It actually seemed manageable. 

I really love children's books! I mean I love, LOVE children's books! I fight an internal raging war when I walk into Barnes and Noble. I head straight to the children's section to gawk at all the books I'd like to add to our collection. It's close to the top of my list of places that make me feel peaceful and happy. :)

I'm so thankful that between my (previous) teaching career and having our three little ones, we have a pretty great selection of books at home. 

We've tried a few different storage solutions for our books; bins, rain gutter shelves and our current solution, a bookshelf. I've come to realize how they are displayed doesn't matter much at all to a two and four year old.  With an overwhelming selection, our storage system wasn't providing my little ones opportunities to create beloved experiences with each endearing book. (Is that crazy for me to expect from a toddler and preschooler????) 

Many books often got overlooked as little hands always seemed to reach for the same reads, like the over-sized Look and Find books. Mainly because they are large and visually appealing to their little eyes. The timeless Dr. Seuss selections or great character reads like Molly Lou Melon (one of our current favorites) sat on the shelf just like Corduroy, sadly waiting for their turn to be chosen.  

I do, most definitely, want to encourage them to choose books they are interested in and what's great is that we've managed to allow them that very opportunity with our book rotating system. I have a strong desire to foster a love for reading within them and I believe allowing them to choose books they are naturally drawn to will play a large role in that. 

Book rotating makes us feel like we have our own little library at home. Here's what it looks like for us...

I took a few moments one day to organize our books, mainly by size and type. For example, I placed all the durable board books together, picture books, softback books, etc. 

I used plain white bins from the dollar store and proudly pronounced them as their book bins. They each keep their bin by their bedside for nap/bedtime read-a-louds and independent "reading". The sentence strips taped to the bins were also a great dollar store find! :) 

Gabriella's Bin:

Mikey's Bin: 

Even Josiah and mommy have a bin :) 

I realize Josiah's is mainly cosmetic for now but before long I know he'll be using his just like big brother and sister are. 

I know it may seem silly but I have really enjoy having one for myself. :) It's nice to have a designated spot for my books, journals and devotions. It's also nice for the little ones to see that reading is important at any age. <3 

And last but not least, our living room bin:
We keep one in the living room for well, reading...anytime!  Occasional lunchtime stories, just because stories and sometimes nap-time or bedtime stories are even read here. 

When it's time to rotate books, Gabriella and Mikey bring their bins to our bookshelf and I help guide them towards the types of books I think they may enjoy the most. For example, I guide Mikey towards the board books since his two year old fingers haven't quite perfected turning thin paper pages without tearing them. If he shows interest in other books I'm 100% OK with that too. I expect a few rips and tears to happen in the process of learning how to care for books. Fortunately we have a book doctor on duty at all times ;) I guide Gabriella towards the picture books, although she's free to choose from any as well. She has quite a soft spot for many of our board books given the four plus years we've read them together, over and over again. :) Brown Bear any one??? 

I ask them to choose anywhere between 8-10 books for their bin. Yes, I'm a softy so 11 or 12 is fine as well if they are must haves. :) 

I admit I get just as excited as the kiddos do for book rotating day and for that very reason I've deemed the living room bin mine!!! Love! :) I occasionally take a book or two that has just come out of their rotation and place it in the living room bin. Their little eyes light up when I pull it out to read as I hear them say something along the lines of "Hey! That was MY book!". The living room bin is also a great place for seasonal books, holiday books and even a fantastic place for our weekly library books.  

I've also noticed on book rotating day there are certain selections that they are not quite ready to part with. That makes my heart smile and I most definitely encourage them keep those books for as long as their little heart desires. There are no over-due book fees to worry about here! :) 

Here are a few pictures I just had to take of the kiddos after choosing "new" books for their bin. They were so excited to read them that they laid their blankets out in the living room and got right to work. <3 

We don't follow any master plan for when to rotate. With a four year old, two year old and one year old I try not to make such grand plans but rather go with the flow. :) So far we seem to rotate around every 2 weeks. I want to keep their excitement high so I'd rather rotate books before they've lost interest than after. 

And that's it! Extremely simple and really manageable! Book rotating has been such a wonderful experience so far. 

Mikey occasionally carries his bin around the house with him.  This was him with his book after bringing his bin with him into our room for our Saturday morning family cuddle session.  

Gabriella likes to show our visitors her book bin. She told a dear friend of mine "this is my book bin for when I get bored!" Eeehhhhh.....???? Mmmm well, that's not exactly what I hoped for. :/ I'm not too sure where she got that phrase "bored" from but at least there was some excitement in her voice when she said it. Haha! 

Wanna know what has been my favorite part of this whole experience?????? This...
Peeking in their rooms at night, catching their little fingers fumble through books and watching them "read" as they sit/lay there before drifting off to sleep. {sigh}...Oh how I LOVE that! 

And then getting to snap pictures like these after they've fallen asleep...

Oh my heart...absolutely priceless!

May each book that finds itself in their little hands become alive within their imagination as they find ways to make connections with characters and illustrations.

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