Book Rotation: Reignite Your Child’s Interest in Reading

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.

March 19 047Rotate 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 crafted. 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.

IMG_0664I 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 (every parent has those books!).

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.

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9 thoughts on “Book Rotation: Reignite Your Child’s Interest in Reading

  1. I don’t do anything this disciplined, but we shift books around the spaces we live in – bedroom, kitchen, living room, bathroom, basement, backseat, diaper bag. We also go to the library which provides an ever-changing supply of new titles.

    • We visit the library about twice/week for books and movies. Library books are stacked on the kid’s night stands. One thing I forgot to mention was that I keep the crate of paperback books downstairs. Paperback books are the ones that go into the car, as they are usually less expensive than hardcover books – in fact, I usually pick them up for free – (so if they get squished or stepped on by muddy feet, it’s not a huge concern).

      • Paperbacks are my go to for all types if travel. You can take LOTS of books without the added weight. Especially helpful when the jogging stroller is involved!

  2. I love this idea. It caught my attention because of the constant book clutter we have going on – it’s also hard for little ones to put books back on the shelves neatly! But I totally fall into the category of “we want unlimited access to books!!!” I already have 3 baskets, and the insanity is quickly overcoming my urge to provide limitless access to books… I think I’m going to have to try this ASAP. Oh, and I think it will keep our library books from getting randomly stashed in one of 4 stuffed-to-the-brim bookshelves, too :). Thank you!

  3. We’ve recently begun rotating out our books too. At first the kids were upset that their books were gone, but when they discovered the “new” ones they hadn’t seen in awhile, they were so excited! I think I may have to limit it even more, although I’m not sure I have the discipline to do a weekly rotation. We have also set up a special, cozy nook for curling up with a book (our “Book Nook”). It has big, comfy pillows, some privacy, and I’m even planning on putting up a pretty curtain over the entrance. Keep your great ideas for simplifying coming!

  4. I started doing this 2 years ago…once I realised that my then 2 year old daughter’s interest in books was decreasing as her book collection grew and that she was getting bored quickly, I decided to keep out only 4-5 books out at a time, earlier they used to be in a basket in her bookshelf, but a few months ago I got my husband to make those rain gutter shelves that we’ve been seeing all over Pinterest these days. The rest of the books are kept away inside a locked cupboard…it’s done wonders to keep her interested in books! And everytime the books are rotated, she looks at the books as if she’s found her long-lost treasure 🙂 I’ve also found that I don’t have to buy as many new books every month as before..she’s content and happy with her lot…discovering new things everytime she opens the same book after a couple of weeks

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