Start small; Declutter a bookshelf

Birthdays are a good time to purge things from the past. My youngest just turned nine, but she still had beginning reader books on her bookshelf. My decluttering project this week is… my daughter’s bookshelf.

1. Target a bookshelf

Pick a bookshelf. This bookshelf suffers from messiness and too many books.

Bookshelf before

2. Take everything off the bookshelf

<imagine empty bookshelf>

3. Clean the bookshelf

<imagine clean empty bookshelf>

4.  Purge books

  • Remove things that belong elsewhere 
  • Give-away pile: Make a pile of books that haven’t been read in years. Be honest. There’s no need to hold on to things that aren’t being used.
  • Keep pile: Make a pile of books that may be read in the next six months.

While purging my daughter’s books, I found I had an attachment to books that brought back pleasant memories: Richard Scarry books, The Rainbow Fish and even Berenstain Bears. Good times.

In the end, I decided to let go of the books.

I don’t need to own these books in order to recall fond memories of reading them to my children. Classic children’s books will continue to exist in bookstores and libraries. Now that my children are older, I don’t need to fill my home with books for younger children.

5. Group alike items

Before putting books back on the shelf, group them by size and type (paperback and hardback).

6. Put books on the bookshelf

After purging 35 or so books:

Bookshelf after

Ah, much better.

Will the mess return? Maybe, but on a much smaller scale.

Because I removed 35 books, it’s not possible for the same mess to be recreated. There are less books, so there will be less mess. If the bookshelf gets messy, I can remove more books until the number of books is manageable. The fewer things my daughter has in her room, the more likely she’ll keep it tidy.

“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

Are your decluttering your home? Share your experience/wisdom in a Comment.


  1. Wow, this looks much better. Well done.

    One thing that I like to do is put picture frames on my book shelves (either in front of the books or next to them). Perhaps your daughter will be motivated to keep it neat if there are some “pretty” things on it too.

    Of course, I only have a toddler who has no sense of neat, so I could be wrong!

  2. I love cleaning up a bookshelf.
    If you know any grade school teachers…especially new ones, that is a good place to donate books. They don’t get any money for classroom supplies like that and need varied reading levels.
    All of my books go to a very new 2nd grade teacher I know. (smile…#1 daughter.)
    For adult books…the Library, or a friend if I think they are worth sharing.
    That being said…the boys and I are reading books I have had since I was their age!

  3. I can’t imagine letting go of 35 of my books (i’m an avid reader and love my books!!) but I know I have too many (there are various pictures on my blog in Summer Reading Challenge and Decluttering posts).
    It was my birthday last week and I’ve had the really random urge to de-clutter and simplify my room again (and looking for motivation/inspiriation, found your blog).
    thanks for the post, I’ll try one of my many shelves of books.

  4. Loving your blog! I decluttered our family’s office bookshelf this week and collected a large box of books we no longer use/need. I then went online to to see if any of the books had resale value. In the end, I earned nearly $65 for our old books that were just sitting and collecting dust!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s