Books are wonderful, I love them and I probably have too many of them!  There are times though when downsizing just has to happen.  Maybe you’ve run out of bookshelves, maybe you are moving house, maybe your kids have grown up.   How do you choose between all those books?

It starts with sorting.

Sort into categories first

  • Chapter books – do these separately, but then separate into subject piles later on.  So at this stage just keep them separate.
  • Any that are connected with curriculum
  • Book Series, or even same authors if the author is a favourite
  • Early readers – books you expect your children to read as they learn to read and  maybe another pile for books they read during that consolidation period
  • Subject piles such as Science, History (I have a separate Australian History pile), Art, Technology, God and being a Christian, Biographies (these tend to be in the chapter book section),
  • Reference books – Bible study tools, dictionary, atlas, encyclopedias, manuals etc.
  • Read-alouds you have earmarked to share with your children for fun
  • And any other category that your book collection deserves!

As you then look at each group, you can get a better idea of what you have in your collection; you can see where you double up (especially in the non fiction category).  You may need to take one category and break it down a bit more – your choice but I would avoid getting too specific and making the whole thing too labourious.

Then take each pile/category and sort into good, better, best and no good.

  • Keep the best
  • give or sell the better
  • give the good to charity places
  • dump the no good (Yes I know – it hurts to throw a book away, but if it is really no good for your family, why give it to someone else!!)

How to decide if it is best?  Now that is tricky.

  • Read up on Charlotte Mason and looking for terms such as “twaddle” (you want to keep away from that) and “Living books” (you want these!)
  • I look for books that capture imagination rather than just be read for the sake of it, books that draw you into the story and artwork, books that you want to read over and over again.
  • Books that evoke the imagination, prompts questions and emotions.
  • Keep in mind what is in your library and what information you can get readily on the internet.  This is particularly useful for downsizing a non fiction collection.
  • Ask a friend to help you – though she can give you her opinions on your choice of good/better/best the best help she can offer is to be a sounding board for you to talk about why you chose one book over another and what you were thinking of when you decided good/better/best.  Just verbalising it will clarify your thoughts a lot.

I think this article,  What Makes a Good Book, from Trivium Pursuit worthwhile considering.

Each and every book we have on our shelf is a personal decision.  No one can make those decisions for you – your bookshelves reflect your family so you can only find guides online, ultimately the decision is yours as to what is worth being on your shelves.

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