Parenting experts often speak of the importance of toy rotation (the process of storing most of your child’s toys out of sight and cycling them in and out of play). Through toy rotation, clutter, boredom, frustration, and feelings of overabundance are often minimized.
Book rotation is something parents hear less about from the experts, but I have discovered that it is just as important as toy rotation, and even has the ability to reignite a child’s interest in reading.
Rotate books? But I want my child to be a reader and have unlimited access to books! We are proud of our book collection! is what many people think when they first hear about the idea of rotating books. I was one of them! From the time they were born, my children’s bedrooms were centered around beautiful, wooden bookcases that my father built. They were filled end to end with a combination of hard cover and paperback books, organized by size. And you know what always happened? Those lovely books were dumped off of the shelves by little hands, EVERY SINGLE DAY!
Soon enough, choosing bedtime stories became problematic. The boys would sit in front of their bookcases, their brown eyes searching back and forth . . . back and forth . . . until finally, my husband or I would have to choose. With such a great selection, my children were completely overwhelmed, rendering them incapable of making a decision.
As the boys matured into preschoolers, much to my relief, the book dumping ceased. But sadly, so did their general interest in reading. The books remained neatly organized on the shelves, no longer enjoyed throughout the day by small, sticky fingers.
I was introduced to book rotation through the Simplicity Parenting movement. As I stated earlier, I was hesitant to try it because I loved our collection of children’s books and wanted Colin and Owen to have access to every single one of them, 100% of the time! But as I continued to observe their frustration due to an overabundant selection and their lack of interest in independent reading, I knew that I couldn’t afford NOT to give it a go. Here’s what I did:
1. I piled all of the children’s books onto the floor at the same time. It looked as if Barnes & Noble had thrown up on our family room floor.
2. I began sorting the books into 4 piles: hardcover – keep, paperback – keep, donate, and recycle. Books that my husband and I never enjoyed reading were immediately placed into the donate pile.
3. I filed the books that I wanted to keep into milk crates (3 milk crates of hardcover books, 1 milk crate of paperback books) and carried them away to store in a closet. I purchased 3 baskets at Target: 1 for each of the boys’ bedrooms and 1 for the family room.
Now every Sunday night, I cycle 5-8 books from the crates to the baskets. Not only do the boys’ bedrooms look neater and less cluttered, but the most amazing thing has happened; they are reading again! My children actually go to their rooms voluntarily, lay on their beds, and look at picture books all by themselves! On Sunday nights, they cheer, “Hooray! New books are in our book baskets!”
As hard as it is to initially pack away the books, I promise you, less is more! If you haven’t yet tried book rotation, you need to! Let me know how it goes.