Help! What do I do with all these picture books?
You’ve probably already realized what I’ve just come to accept – if you have kids, there comes a point when you have more books(and toys and other accessories) than you can handle while managing to remain sane.
And you just can’t put off dealing with it beyond a certain stage.
Our home may have just hit saturation point and I spent a considerable amount of time this past month going through M’s books, organizing them into ’discard’, ‘donate’, ‘recycle’ and ‘keep’ piles.
I didn’t immediately know what to do with all the books that M had outgrown but which I didn’t have the heart to throw away. A little research into the matter and some digging for ideas revealed many possibilities. So, if you find yourself facing the same situation, here are some ways to give your children’s old books a new leash of life.
Donate: There’s definitely a child out there who can benefit from the gently-used books your child doesn’t need or use any more. And there are dozens of places that accept used children’s toys, books, clothes and other items. Here’s a great consolidated list of places to donate books.
Below are a few more to consider. (Not all of them accept used books as donations, but they all support early literacy and reading programs in one form or another. So, you could still contribute by donating the proceeds from the sale of your children’s used books at a garage sale -)
Reach Out and Read,
United Way/ The Bridge of Books Foundation,
Other great places likely to accept children’s books in fairly good condition include your local library, your child’s school, schools in low income areas and hospitals.
Pass ‘em on - Your child’s younger cousins, friends, your friends’ and neighbors’s kids all make excellent candidates to receive the books your child no longer reads. So, before you discard or recycle a box of old children’s books, ask your friends and family to take a look and see if there’s anything their kids might like. You’ll be surprised at how much lighter the box will get at the end of the day.
Exchange – If there’s a birthday party or sleepover coming up, why not suggest a book exchange instead of guests bringing new presents? Each child could bring a book he no longer reads, wrapped up as a gift. At the party, have the children exchange their books. This way, everyone goes back with a new book (sort of), while having learned a lesson in recycling and reusing.
Set up your own children’s library - Get together with your friends and neighbors and collect all the children’s books that aren’t in frequent use. Set up a library at one of the houses or in a garage or storage shed that is easily accessible to everyone. Take turns managing the library. Train the kids to categorize, catalogue, organize books and to keep records. This is a great way for kids to learn about community building, develop leadership and organizational skills, share ideas and care for books. A mobile weekly library is another option where each week, one child accompanied by a parent goes around the neighborhood, collecting and delivering books.
Create a book museum at home – Some of us simply can’t bear the thought of parting with books – even those of the lift-the-flap variety that our children have long outgrown. When the idea of donating or recycling children’s books is not an option either because the books hold special memories or you’d just like to preserve your children’s items for posterity – why not turn a corner of your house into a children’s book museum? Come up with a unique, uncluttered way to display your child’s books. A glass encased book shelf will work well. So will a wall shelf on a staircase landing. Or a lesser used cabinet in the kitchen. Turn an old crib into a book chest. Find a place that will serve as a home to your child’s books for years to come and who knows, if you do a really good job of caring for and preserving the books, your great grand children might even enjoy and appreciate them.
What do you do with the dozens of picture books, board books and story books that don’t interest your child any more? Share your favorite ‘decluttering ideas’!