Childs Bookshelf Setup

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I have been working in one preschool or another for over 7 years now. I have seen A LOT of bookshelves in that time. I have found some tricks and tips over the last few years on how to make a child’s bookshelf usable, attractive and not just a big clean up!

Firstly the easiest way to have a book shelf be child friendly is to just fork out the money an purchase one of these babies! Link HERE.


I LOVE this one because it isn’t crazy colors, its a bit see through, sturdy and it is small. These type of shelves are perfect for a child’s room because you can’t put too many books into it. It is also VERY easy for your child to put their books away without assistance.

I have used these in a classroom setting but never at home. I have been blessed and spoiled to have hand-me-down bookshelves from family so I never felt justified in buying ANOTHER shelving unit. If you like me have a bookshelf you are trying to make work for your littles I am here to help you!

Are you tired of picking up 50 BILLION books every single day?

Are you frustrated that you can never find the book you or your child are looking for?

Do you loose your cool when you pull out one book and the whole shelf comes tumbling out with it!?!?!?!

Okay I’m mad just thinking about those things. Here are some tips and ideas to help make your child’s book shelf a bit less frustrating

1. There will be books on the floor

Firstly you must come to terms that there will be books on the floor. I have no magic words to keep that from happening…yet. So what you need to do, especially if you are just starting a new bookshelf regime, is decide the number of books you are willing to pick up every day…for the rest of your life, just kidding, it’ll just be a couple more years.

So pick a number, say 10. Tell yourself I am willing to pick up all 10 books every couple of days. Then pick 10 books and place them on your shelves. It is nice to pick a number because then as you are picking up the books for the umpteenth time you can tell yourself, “I am okay with this.”

2. Remove most of your books

I know, this is crazy talk! Obviously this goes with step number one. I have 2 boxes full of kids books AND the top shelves of our book case are stashed with the next set of books I will rotate in. If you are only willing to pick up 10 books then you obviously have to get rid of most of them.

Even if your children are good at keeping their books on the bookshelf, or picking up after themselves, there is no need for them to have 69 books to choose from. We are not running a library here people.

This doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your books. Just place them out of sight and reach. When you notice your child isn’t looking at books as much it is time to switch your books out. This one is hard for me. I want to keep all my favorites out forever and hide my girls barbi books forever. But alas the bookshelf is my child’s so I guess I can cater to them a bit.

3. Make it look inviting

Don’t get stressed. I’m not asking you to make a bunch of decorations for your shelves. I’m just asking you to place the books in a easy to grab and see way.

If a child walks by the bookshelf and a few books are propped up it is nearly impossible for them not to stop and take a second peek.

4. Make a few piles ahead of time

When placing your books on the shelves don’t be afraid to put some in small piles. Honestly we all know that is how they will end up in a day or two anyways.

I have noticed my girls are a lot more likely to put their books back if it set up with their clean up style in mind. I usually put 2 books propped up on each shelf and then a small pile of books laying on their side and maybe a few books leaning to the side.


Here is what my girls book shelf looks like.

  • My girls are pretty good at getting books back on the shelf. I just organize every few days to make it look pretty again
  • I have different aged children so I have organized the shelves into toddler and older sibling shelves and that has been really successful.
  • Yes I have a whole shelf reserved for little critter…we are obsessed.

If your child is not good at picking up,  yet, make it more simple.


This is how I would do a book shelf for a child I was training to clean up after themselves. Only 4 or so books on each shelf.

Another trick

Here is how I use the rest of the book shelf.


Starting at the top

  • The top shelf is the books that I will use to switch out the old books for.
  • The empty shelf is usually filled with some children games. I don’t necessarily want them to get them out themselves but I do want the easily accessible for us. I am in the middle of switching out games…and I heard a rumor that I should expect a new game or two from Santa so I am at a bit of a stand still.
  • Then I have our church books and library book shelf.
  • Next we have our Busy Books and activity books.
  • Finally the last 4 shelves are the shelves my girls use the most.

Do you have any great tips for how to do a bookshelf for your children? I’d love to hear new tricks!


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