I was so proud of myself, having sorted through the picture book shelves with my kids. They’re five and nine, and while we still read plenty of picture books, we most often pull from the revolving library haul, rather than the old favorites. Combined with a general desire to declutter, I went through the shelves with them. If anyone wanted a book to stay (including me), it stayed.
When my husband got home and saw the 75 books marked for give-away, he howled. “Why do you hate books?! Dr. Seuss?? Sandra Boynton?? What is wrong with you people!!”
But it was freeing to lighten the shelves, to know these books will move along to homes where they’ll be loved. (I did tell my husband he was welcome to go through and pull out any he couldn’t bear to part with.) And in the process of thinning those shelves, we rediscovered a number of books we hadn’t read in ages. We've happily added them back into the regular rotation.
Just after we did the picture book shelves, I read a post by Project Mayhem contributor Joanna Roddy on a larger-scale decluttering she recently went through. I’m still waiting on my library hold on the book she recommended, THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP, by Marie Kondo, but Joanna’s post inspired me to keep going with the books. (Thanks, Joanna!)
Once I’d finished with my adult shelves, I had 275 book marked for giveaway.
It wasn’t always easy. When my daughter cleared out the American Girl books and only kept two sets, I balked. We homeschool, and those books are educational! What if we study the Great Depression and no longer have the Kit books?!?! But then I remembered that awesome place down the road where they let us borrow books. For free!
When I got to my own shelves, my holdovers from my theater major days just demanded to stay. I mean, I got rid of the books on design, the esoteric, analytical books. But RESPECT FOR ACTING? AN ACTOR PREPARES? I have to admit, I didn’t get rid of those, even though I’m 100% sure my acting days are over. I just wasn’t ready.
And I’ll admit: I barely thinned out any middle grade at all. But in my defense my kids are still on the younger side, so it seemed far too soon to get rid of anything they still might enjoy over the next five years.
If you get inspired to thin your shelves, here are a few ideas of what you can do with them:
· DONATE THEM TO YOUR LIBRARY: I’ve seen some people mention donating books to their library for circulation. Maybe it’s because my library system is vast and decently-funded, but my library doesn’t use donated books for circulation. They do, however, take donated books and sell them in their regular Friends of the Library sale, using the funds to support the library. Win-win!
· DONATE THEM TO GOODWILL, SALVATION ARMY, ETC: When my kids were babies, I got very excited about the children’s books we’d read together. Long before they were ready for them, I built up our children’s library through second-hand stores. Your donation will help more overzealous new parents build their collections!
· SELL THEM TO USED BOOKSTORES: In my area, I have multiple options for selling used books to second-hand bookstores. They’ll give me cash or in-store credit. They won’t take everything, but even a little in-store credit is better than none, right?
· BUY NOTHING GROUPS: We boxed up the majority of our books and took them to the library, but when I had several complete sets of American Girl books, I offered them up on my local Buy Nothing group and people went crazy. There was a HUGE demand. I mentioned that I had more children’s books for giveaway, and teachers came over to see if there was anything they could use in their classroom libraries. See if there’s a Buy Nothing group in your area.
· DONATE TO A LOCAL SCHOOL: Speaking of teachers, I’m guessing local schools and teachers might be excited about an influx of new-to-them books as well. I’ve never gone this route, but maybe some of Project Mayhem’s teachers and former teachers can weigh in.
So what do you do with books you’ve decided you don’t need anymore? What do you do with all the extra shelf space? Is it wrong that it makes me want to fill it up with more books?