Homeschool, Life
Comments 8

Our Home Library

by Sharin Post

And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?

 And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods.

~ Luke 12:17-18

Every time I think of books, I think of this passage. Home education goes with too many books … buying more boxes and bookcases for the books … trading books for yet more books … downloading books and cataloging them in the computer … books, books, books. Where do we put them all? It is a problem. A good problem, but a problem nonetheless.

Last week, my husband fulfilled my much nagged-for er, much-anticipated window shelves in the family room.


Gary and Elaine don’t live here. Our family room style is definitely “home education eclectic.”  Can you find the following in this picture: a sword, a hammer, G for Garfias, a smart phone, a pen, and my camera lens cap? I needed my son to help me find the camera lens cap right after I took this picture. I lose that thing all the time. *sigh* 

But I digress. The shelves were to give more … shelf space, by moving book storage UP, the only place left to go in this room.  I will doubtless need to use them for larger collections later, but for now the one on the left has a stack of my non-fiction books (various topics), a stack of books on marriage and women’s issues, and half of my coffee table book collection.

I love coffee table books. That is SO impractical, because with young children in the house, I rarely display them on the appropriate table. But when we go to a memorable museum, vacation, or tourist spot, I try to get a pictorial book to remember it. Books are my favorite souvenirs.

On the other shelf, I have the rest of the beloved coffee table books and a stack of Ideals Magazines that were given to me.  And of course, Fiesta ware.  I just grabbed those two fiesta pieces; they were handy.  I may change that display later. The blue doesn’t really go with the room. But don’t you LOVE that pitcher? One of HLC’s best designs EVER.

But we should be talking about books, not dishes.  I wanted to know what kind of books we had, how many of each kind we had, where they REALLY should go … I was frustrated b/c too many times I would buy a book, and then a couple of months later find out I already had it. This was because no one could easily find the volume they wanted in the current quasi-organizational system we had. So my daughter and I took




off of 




 and sorted them into piles “just like Half Price Book categories.” Really, isn’t that easier to think of than a very confusing library system?

And what we saw scared us a little.

The piles went around the front of the sofa, the back of the sofa, and on top of the coffee table. It was impossible for me to photograph the book blizzard.

This pile continued to grow, becoming nearly as tall as my nine-year-old daughter. And it is entirely made up of Picture Books. Stunning.

My son surveyed the mess and remarked, quietly, “We are so rich.”

So, we sorted everything by subject: Picture Books, Curriculum, Children’s Fiction, Adult Bible Study, etc. Then we stood back and considered where to place things so that

1) Like books could actually be together and perhaps we would find what we wanted. A revolutionary concept in home library.

2) Books for children would be accessible, encouraging them to read on a variety of subject matter and then put their books away properly, another un-heard-of concept.

Daughter and I think we hit on a system that will work, at least for the next week or so.

This is the family room entertainment …. thing. See my dishes in the glass? Guess what they are? My egg plates, large collection of Evergreen for the holidays, and less used pieces like ramekins are in there. Also seasonal placemats, which causes the messy look you see there. I need to go fix that before Elaine comes for tea.

The drawers are all board games, dvds, and electronics, so no book room there. Don’t think I haven’t considered doing the unthinkable …

When the library grows too much again, though, I have decided to ask my husband to lay a board across the top of the entertainment … thing. I can grow up more there.

The picture books are finally down where the three-year-old can reach them. He’s old enough to care for books, now, and he should be spending more time looking at them.

Remember that HUGE stack of picture books? You probably wonder how I got them all there. I didn’t. Each child was required to pick out 5 books he didn’t want any more to take to Half Price. I checked their selections to make sure my favs didn’t get in the donation box. Also, duplicate books went in the box. Books in poor condition were sent to the recycling. Books on ballet and princesses were sent upstairs to Daughter’s private collection.

The shelf above Picture Books is the only really random shelf in the house. It has my favorite picture books and art picture books, poetry, classic literature, and then our Bibles.

The top shelf is my favorite: a mother’s collection. Starting from the left, I have my crochet and needle work books and magazines, a stack of books on child rearing, then my collection of books on home education. It is nice to see them all together, at last. Now I know what I have yet to add to my little personal library.

Can you see the coasters? They are prints of my step-mom’s art. I love them. I don’t let the children use them. But they shouldn’t be drinking in the family room, anyway. See how clean it is? When Elaine comes for tea, though, I will take them down and let her choose her favorite. But not Gary. He eats non-food items, at times, and may take a bite out of one. Can’t take the chance.

The other side of the entertainment … thing has reference materials. Two shelves of knowledge, just waiting to be found. These are our most-used books, and they were the first to find a home. Finally, the encyclopedias (got them used from our public library for a donation. It’s not quite a complete set) are off the floor and all the dictionaries and atlases are in one place. The children rejoiced to see it. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Notice the scorpion. It is “not a toy! It is just like a museum thing. You may look at it, but don’t touch it!” my middle son declared when he received it for Christmas. He is very fond of his large model. It is quite disgusting. But Sarah will agree that it is way better than the aquarium full of FROGS that jumped vigorously in an evening and alarmed guests with their attempts to escape. Those frogs died New Years Eve and were buried in the back yard after a brief service attended by members of the family.

The top shelf is biographies and then “logic books yet to be used.” A very important category.

We turn around and look at the computer desk, in a corner of the family room behind my sofa.

We have discussed painting the wall behind it green, too. I decided to wait until Elaine comes and ask her what she thinks. She knows these things. Whatever she says, that’s what we’ll do.

Top shelf is now Bible reference, Bible study, Christian issues, Music Ministry, and Christian Counseling. And the globe. I want the globe down somewhere so that the children can use it every day, but other than putting it on the floor where it will become a soccer ball, there is nowhere right now. So there it sits. The entertainment … thing is too low in the shelves to fit it in the reference section where it really belongs. But I will get past it. Tomorrow.

By the way, this pic was taken on Friday. House Honcho, this is what I call “clean desk.” You should see it Thursday.

The lower shelf is phone books, then textbooks and notebooks. Finally, over the computer, are readers for when the three-year-old is ready. I have even MORE in the container in the garage.

I told my husband I am so proud of how few textbooks I have now – look! Less than a quarter shelf for 3 children, ages 7 to 12! Including the teacher keys! He looked at me in shock for a moment, then waved his arms in the air and said,

Look at all these books! They use PLENTY of BOOKS!

But that was my point. We just speak different languages, husband and I. Getting away from textbooks and focusing on real books has opened up our love of learning in a big way. We all feel the excitement.

After the reference shelves, this middle shelf above my computer will get the most use from the children. Starting from the left, it has their history and geography books (for now, they are arranged chronologically. How long will that last?). Next is the science section, beginning with the large collection of science reference, then dinosaurs, then animals, then astronomy, then other science. Then the Answers in Genesis books they recently acquired and are so proud of. Finally, the juvenile fiction section.  This looks like a very small collection because my readers tend to hoard their favorite books in their own rooms.

But, wait, that’s not all! Did you really think I got all the picture books taken care of on that one shelf with just a few donations?

Underneath one end table is a long, long basket. I don’t remember how I got that basket. I filled it with Little Golden Books and Bible story picture books.

Many of these were mine when I was a little girl. That is special.

I like having the Bible story books together like that, too. Next time we get to an account in Bible time and we wonder where are the pictures that “go with it,” we can whip out a picture book for the little guy really fast.

This is a dollar store crate that I have had forever.  It had board books in it for my oldest when he was a toddler.  I keep weeding out board books … my youngest is really out-grown most of them. That is so sad. It is the end of an era.

Moment of silence.

So this crate has picture books, a few board books, and activity books for preschoolers.  It is under the other end table and can be dragged out by little hands at a moment’s whimsy. My daughter is “teaching him to read” so she put a worn copy of the Handbook for Reading in there, too.

I neglected to take a picture of my own basket.  I have another long, long basket completely full of reading material for me.  I found all the books I had scattered around the house, stashed on book shelf ends, and stacked on my desk and end tables, and put them in one basket. There are … going to run and count them …

20 books in it. So glad it is an even number.

Plus the latest copy of Home School Enrichment magazine and a reading journal. The books are varied, and from various sources.  I have a couple of books on writing that I picked up on clearance. I have an autographed book by Max Lucado that I won and promised to read. I’ve read half of it already; it is very good.  I have several books lent me from friends and family because they are on subjects I am very interested and I really should read them. I am very interested in them and can’t wait to read them. I have books on home education that I picked up on sale when our homeschool book store had their store closing sale and now I need to read these books. And I have books sent me to review and tell you about and they don’t read themselves, come to find out.

So I’m glad to have them all in one basket. Now I know where they all are, what I need to read, and I feel better because my reading is in one place. I put one book for review next to my bed, so I can read a little at night. The rest stays in the basket.

None of this includes My Mark Twain Book. I am reading that for pure enjoyment.  And I am. Enjoying it. I wonder I am channeling Twain right now. I never write these chatty blog posts. But here you have one. You didn’t have to read it.


  1. Finally, someone else in this world who loves books as much as I do! I keep telling myself that if I could stop buying so many books and actually read the ones I have, I would be a much (ambiguously) wealthier person! 🙂


  2. My favorite comment in your post was your son’s reaction to all the books, “We are so rich.” My sentiment exactly. I don’t know where I read it, but I read somewhere that the number one correlation between how well children do in school has more to do with how many books are in their home than how well educated their parents were, how old they were when they started reading, etc. If so, my 12 children should be in GREAT shape!

    I estimated a few years ago how many books we owned, and at the time, my best guess was about 5,000 books. And I don’t think the number has gone down any. When we moved into our current house, with 11 of our 12 children, there was NO WAY we were going to all fit in the dining room to eat – so I convinced my husband to turn it into a library…We have floor to ceiling shelves on three of the four walls (he wouldn’t let me cover up the two windows on the fourth wall!)…And we still have to double shelve books in some places. My perpetual goal is to get to where all of the books can actually be seen. I actually have about four boxes of books in my van right now ready to take to our Used Bookstore, so I’m getting there.

    And I agree, books are the best souvenirs! (And the only books I generally buy brand new.) We just returned from a trip out west — and I now have several new books on the Grand Canyon, Montezuma’s Castle, and a wonderful art exhibit we went to on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. (My dad shares my love of books — and generously donated $10 towards the Lewis and Clark book before leaving the exhibit.)

    Happy Reading!!!


  3. Sarah says

    *sigh* I LOVE this post!!! I LOVE books, and my family are also book lovers. My husband and I are planning some new shelves since we’ve rearranged our living room, and I CAN’T WAIT! I still try to “thin out” books we don’t really reference anymore, or perhaps our views have changed since reading them or whatever.

    And, as we are teaching our daughter to read, I try to remind her the privilege it is to read and that not too long in history past, girls were not taught to read. OR, church members were not allowed to read Scripture for themselves.

    And, I say again, I LOVE books! And, I must agree with your organization. Several years back, we sorted by topic instead of alphabetizing by author as many of our friends did. For our style, this worked better. And, it kind of ended up with some his/hers/ours sections which also helped. If I’d alphabetized…the electrical wiring book might have ended up with my Bible study on friendship book, and that would be just weird. 🙂

    Loved the photos with it. And, I don’t know what Elaine will say; but I think painting the wall behind your computer shelves green is a great idea. 🙂 Put your little men on that task!


  4. Lol! Our home library extends to almost every room in the house, including every bedroom, because we are booklovers too. Last year my mom and I bought almost nothing at our library’s annual used book sale, which was a shock since we usually buy enough for another half a bookshelf easily, but we were relieved not to have to find another spot in the house for another bookcase! I loved the shelves over the windows. Great way to utilize every available shelf-space!



  5. Kathy is trying to talk me into a kindle. My aunt Colleen has one, too, and loves it.
    We have thousands of books, as well. I’ve never done a blog post that showed our entire collection!
    What a great feeling to have your books organized like that. I am sad for you that your baby is growing out of his little board books…he popped up in some of the pictures for us to admire…he’s so cute!
    You did some name dropping in this and I didn’t know who on earth the people were. Elaine? Gary the person who might eat your coasters? House honcho? LOL
    I’m glad Twain is inspiring you to be chatty. 🙂
    Oh and I noticed the fiestaware…very nice!
    Have a great day, Sharin. I hope you don’t mind my overly personal comment, I feel like I might know you!


  6. SO glad I finally had time to read this today, at 11:24 pm (Notice I did not round to 11:25 so it could be even. Is time even & odd? Oh, I digress…)

    I am very happy to make Sharin’s acquaintance! She’s a fabulous writer.

    Yes I love the pitcher. I need a long basket…


  7. I feel so at home reading this post. We did a sort out of the homeschool /kids books a few months ago and had piles up the hallway, one can never have too many shelves, baskets, or flat surfaces for books.
    The shelves above the window, that has openned a new possibility to me, we do have wallspace in our home if I look up. Hmmm another project.
    thanks for the inspiration.


  8. Pshaw! My husband built an entire second floor onto our 1946 cottage in South Elgin primarily to provide space for my book collection, which now numbers about 3,000. And although my library does indeed house about half of them, there are more downstairs (on the shelves he built in the dining area which was supposed to take care of the “book problem” prior to adding the second floor), in the basement “book sort room,” in my husband’s game room, and in my office in downtown Elgin (where I hope to soon open a bookstore).


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