Organizing Thursday: Book Rack Storage Bookshelf

elegant organizing bookshelf for kidsWe have this $29 bookshelf in the “primary colors” version, and honestly I’d have pulled the trigger a lot quicker on it if I’d seen this more elegant espresso/white version. The books-forward bookcase is great for toddlers and littles who aren’t speaking well yet but who can point at the book they want when they see the cover; we also find it useful for series like Golden Books where there is nothing written on the spine of the book or the “I Can Read” type books that are so thin everyone’s squinting at the book anyway. (Honestly we also use the bookshelf to store a random keyboard that gets trampled on elsewhere.) The “shelves” are made of cloth so it’s very light weight — we go crazy anchoring furniture and I’ve never been very concerned about this one. The bookshelf is $29, available in five color combos. (The matching “affordable” toy storage organizer, $59, also comes in the espresso/white version — again we have it in primary colors, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because both boys tend to take everything out of every bin and dump/throw it in a huge mess and then walk away until someone (Mommy) sorts it and then they repeat the process, hence our recent switch to toy bins that click/lock shut. Perhaps if your kids are less obsessed with chaos than mine it’s a good purchase…) Pictured: Tot Tutors Kids Book Rack Storage Bookshelf

Psst: to those commenters wondering about how you fit an entire kids’ library on these — you don’t. At least I don’t. We have most of the books in our old Expedit (5×5) for the kids but they’re overflowing there too — I just use these little shelves for “display” (as in look, Mom got you new books from the library, don’t they look fun!) or to keep the “most-loved books of the moment” out and reachable. I try to rotate books but… yeah.

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  1. Spirograph says:

    My kids’ daycare has shelves like this, and I think the best benefit of them is that it is so much easier for the kids to put the books away neatly on this type of shelf. At home, every time I tell my kids to put their books away and they end up every which way on the traditional book shelf, I have to hold myself back from straightening them because messy bookshelves drive me bonkers. vs at school, they know to make the cover picture right-side up and facing out. Regardless, I’m sticking with the messy traditional shelves because we don’t have space, we actually have too many books for this type of shelf, and the kids will learn spatial reasoning soon. I hope.

    • Yep, we have too many books for this type of shelf. I also don’t understand those gutter-type shelves that are all over Pinterest. They hold like 4 books. I would live in a library if I could, so I don’t understand how anyone can have only 10 children’s books. (Or even “only” the 30-ish that you could fit here.)

      My short-term dream is to have a Little Free Library of kid’s books in my yard, although I’m a little off the beaten path to the grade school so worry it wouldn’t be seen enough. So I settle for donating books to the grade school instead.

    • BTanon says:

      Agree that these shelves are lovely for display but just not functional for the sizable kid’s library I’m aiming for.

      On a related note – anyone else have a spouse who doesn’t quite “get” the need for a large variety of kids’ books? My husband’s logic is that the toddler is happy to read the same books over and over, and books are no different from toys (which we try to limit for clutter avoidance)…and he grew up with a tiny bookshelf and turned out just fine, right? I, on the other hand, think there’s (almost) no such thing as too many books for kids or adults, and partially credit my large childhood collection with a lifelong appreciation for reading. I’m trying to respect his view but also convert him to my side, so would welcome any suggestions.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you’re both clutter-averse, try a weekly or biweekly trip to the library. You get the variety you want for your toddler, neither of you has to deal with having 100s of children’s books scattered around. My library even offers quick ‘to go’ bundles of children’s books, which can be nice without spending an hour picking out 10 books for the week.

        • mascot says:

          +1 to using the local library. I also like to cross reference all those lists of best/notable books and put those on my library hold lists.

        • Spirograph says:

          Yes, my library does this too! Bonus, the children’s section of my local library is just amazing — colorful, interactive stuff, kid-size tables, big comfy reading chairs for parent+kid. My kids love love love going there. And I love love love “needing” to give back the book that they’ve requested 2x a day for the last week that I’m sick of because “we were only borrowing it, now it’s someone else’s turn!”

          I still have a ton of my own books, though, because my retired-teacher relative bequeathed her classroom collection to us. We have shelves of kids books in 3 different rooms, plus a giant box of the ones that the kids are still a little young for. It’s excessive in a glorious way.

      • English is not my MIL’s first language – she never read to my husband as a kid as it was difficult for her and also not part of her culture. She also stayed home full time and had a fulltime nanny and daily housekeeper, so I am really confused as to what on earth she was doing, but that is neither here than there. It is still an amazement to me that he made it through law school and passed the bar hating to read/not really liking school. We’ve talked about how important it is to read to new baby on the way, and I think we’re on the same page, but remains to be seen. He (and my MIL) are confused about why I am asking for baby books for the baby and a bookshelf for the nursery. I grew up in a family of avid readers – it wasn’t until high school that I became aware it was weird to take books to dinner and eat and read in silence (with others). Also we may have some severe anti-social/introvert tendencies and probably erred too far in that direction, but hopefully we’ll hit a happy medium with new baby.

        • I had to smile at reading at the table – I also grew up taking books to dinner and reading/ eating in companionable silence (I’m sure we must have struck all the other restaurant patrons as pretty eccentric).

          We go to the library regularly and are still overrun by piles of books. When H is no longer an impoverished grad student and we have a real home, I dream of a) a personal library and b) a kitchen larger than a postage stamp.

          • Anon in NYC says:

            Me and my siblings were huge readers as kids. My mom would occasionally let us bring books to the table and the entire family would sit in silence and read and eat dinner.

      • Similar dynamics in my family. I approached it from a values perspective – we want our kids to value reading. My husband did not grow up with a lot of books, and he is totally addicted to his phone now. He wants to change that, and tries to make himself pick up a book instead of flipping through Facebook, although isn’t as successful as he likes. He is more likely to do so when he sees the kids reading, or when they ask him to read a chapter at night, or if he just has a stack of books nearby.

        I also flipped the script to mirror it with physical activity. I didn’t grow up being physically active at all, but I want to model that behavior as well. So we have a variety of toys/ bikes/ etc that encourage movement, so I will choose an activity instead of flipping through FB. Having that variety makes it more interesting for me, and harder to say no if I have several options. Same idea with reading and books.

      • NewMomAnon says:

        Someone posed this question when I was pregnant (in, um, 2013), and I’ve been trying to come up with a good answer ever since then. I am of the opinion that books cannot be clutter and there is no such thing as too many books. We have a lot of kids books.

        But here’s the thing – every time I go to weed out the ones we haven’t read recently, I come up empty-handed. We read and re-read books over and over again, and all of them get touched. Which means my kiddo is exposed to lots of words, lots of different characters, and a wide variety of problem solving strategies. I can see it reflected in her behavior too; she has a huge vocabulary and seems comfortable in lots of new situations.

        Plus, reading books together means I don’t have to engage in so many horrible imaginative play scenarios. I know I’m supposed to love playing with kiddo, but….ugh to being “the baby” or “the grandma” or the “cashier” one more time.

      • anne-on says:

        I loooove books, but I will weed out the ‘baby’ books (board books = teething toys quite often) after 2-3, and the push button ‘books’ we were given. I HATE the talking books and gifted them to daycare with a quickness. Ditto with the flimsy scholastic paperback books, books that I HATED reading, or that I strongly disagreed with (you would be surprised at the bad grammar and outdated messaging in some of the golden books).
        Other than that, books are not clutter IMHO, but we do try to keep the overall volume of books down with a weekly/biweekly trip to the library. And if anything is a particular favorite, we buy it. It also helps keep the ridiculous ‘character’ books (5 minute star wars stories, etc.) to a minimum since I just borrow them.

        • avocado says:

          I am so envious of those of you who have good public libraries. Our public library system is woefully inadequate. The collection is small and most of the books are old, weird, and uninteresting. The school library actually has a better collection. The public library has so few books that whenever a school project is assigned, I have to get the kid on the computer immediately to put in interlibrary loan requests for the one or two books on the topic available in the entire library system before the rest of the class gets its hands on them. My kid is never interested in going to the library to browse because she’s already read all the books they have in which she is interested. Our bookcases are full and I don’t have room in my house or budget for more, so I buy a lot of Kindle books.

          I’m not sure exactly why the libraries are so awful. It’s not a terribly intellectual place, but we do have a good public school system, so you’d think libraries would also be something of a priority.

          • hoola hoopa says:

            It may be worth exploring if you can use the public library in another community. I’ve lived in counties where I was eligible to be a member at another county’s library system, which was only ~20 minute drive. In both situations, the home library system was good – but worth checking.

    • We got this for the kids. (Didn’t buy it from Target, this was just the first link I found) It holds a lot of books and is very sturdy. Despite the weight, I plan on bringing it when we move (and I’m getting rid of lots of stuff, down to all our pots/pans)

    • hoola hoopa says:

      I could stock a book store with the amount of childrens books our family has acquired.

      We have two full height bookshelves in the downstairs family room for the heavy lifting (in our prior home with just a living room, the bookshelves were in an upstairs bonus/storage space). But we keep a smaller selection of books in the living room and each bedroom, which is where shelves like this come in handy. It’s easy for the kids to see what’s there, select a book, and put it back. You can rotate books over time.

      Since floor space is a premium, I do prefer bins with sloped sides where the books can be put in spine-up and even flipped through.

    • Macademia says:

      I am chiming in late here, sorry! We had one of these in a reading nook in the living room with a kid poang chair and some Flor tiles to delineate the area. Then the kiddo could read there while we were reading or while we were hanging out with guests in the living room. If I wanted to highlight a book I would put it there. We also had overstuffed shelves elsewhere in the house. It worked well until the lad was too big for the chair.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Looking at a job in grants management at a foundation – no one on the main board had anything positive to say about working for a foundation, anyone on here have thoughts?

    I am worried about losing the flexibility of my current role but really interested in the subject matter.

    • Foundation work is really another beast. An option could be to volunteer first in a smaller capacity to understand what issues are at play before jumping in.

    • I work in fundraising, and working at a foundation is like a unicorn job from my perspective – everyone is going to be nice to you all the time because they want your money! How bad can it be? What kind of foundation is it – small family foundation, community foundation, big professional foundation (like Ford or something), corporate foundation? I would imagine the working environments would be quite different.

      • Anonymous says:

        Big professional. It seems like a cool opportunity but also maybe a weird working environment. And I think I might go from being sort of high up on a totem pole to rather low, which might be okay but which I need to wrap my head around!

        • NewMomAnon says:

          FWIW, I know several people who have left law firm jobs to go to foundations (corporate foundations and City of ______ Foundations, and none of them have left or expressed any desire to leave. Some have been there for more than 7 or 8 years, which is usually a mark of a decent employer.

          Everything depends on your co-workers, of course.

          • Thanks for this!

            I love my current co-workers. Very concerned on this score. I’d take a pretty miserable job with great coworkers most days of the week, but I am trying to think more long term.

        • See, that is even better. Big foundations have the reputation of being very hard to get your foot in the door, and most likely to hire people who are already well-connected. If you can get past the shift in your stature, it seems to me like putting yourself in a very good position for the future. You can work your way up or move to another foundation, or move to a high level government job. What were downsides people were anticipating?

          • Anonymous says:

            high turnover and dysfunction, which seems specific. it was less the downsides and more that no one had anything positive to report. Glad to hear from NewMomAnon on this! A positive anecdata to take into the process! (Apparently I’m just looking for confirmation anecdata though and nothing bad, oops).

    • I’m a fundraiser as well and think foundation work could be super cool. Depends a little bit on what you’d be doing — managing a program area (or areas) that is/are important to you? More compliance-y stuff? Foundation work is good for someone who’s a detail oriented relationship builder (and creative problem solver), and yes all of it (for me) comes down to colleagues.

      • Also a fundraiser and also think working for a foundation could be really fulfilling. We work quite a bit with foundations, from small to large, in my office and grant-making certainly seems fulfilling for the program officers I encounter.

  3. Anon for This says:

    Anyone else have swollen ureter tubes show up baby in ultrasounds? They showed up on my anatomy and I had a followup yesterday at 34 weeks and they were still swollen. Kidneys look normal. I will obviously discuss with our pediatrician but my OB didn’t really want to comment much on it since it is in the pediatrician’s jurisdiction.

    Rather than turn to Dr. Google, I wanted to see if any of you ladies had the same situation and what came about because of it?

    • Blueberry says:

      This sounds like something my first baby had, although I may be misremembering (funny how medical blips that drive you crazy with worry recede in your mind till you can’t even remember the name of the condition…). It was some kind of mild dilation in his kidneys that I think showed up at the same time as you mention and lasted until he was about 2 years old. I of course freaked out (so good job for not going to Google), but it was totally fine. You are right that it makes sense to talk to the pediatrician to make sure you know the protocol, if any. We basically had to make extra sure he was peeing okay during the first few days after he was born, do a follow-up ultrasound and a little test where they insert some dye through a catheter to make sure the kidneys are working fine when he was maybe 1 month old, followed by annual ultrasounds till it resolved when he was a toddler. There are obviously more severe cases, but given that your OB didn’t seem alarmed, I’d be willing to bet yours doesn’t appear to be one of them.

    • NewMomAnon says:

      I have a friend whose little ones both had kidney abnormalities as toddlers/preschoolers – it showed up for one in an ultrasound, and the other they discovered when the kiddo was older. One of the kids had complications (frequent UTIs, including a couple bouts of an infection that required hospitalization), so that little one had surgery to correct the issue. The other one hasn’t had complications so they haven’t treated it.

      Both kiddos saw a pediatric urologist who directed treatment. If you do talk with your pediatrician (which you should do today, if only for peace of mind), you might ask for a referral to a pediatric urologist for more information. I’ve also had friends who discovered pretty serious health issues with baby at birth or shortly after, and I think they would all have appreciated some advance warning and information so they could prepare for an unusual postpartum experience.

      • Blueberry says:

        Yes, I’m now remembering that the complications you mention were the ones I learned were potential complications for the issue my baby had. I just talked to the pediatrician about the issue before giving birth, and she knew exactly what the issue was and gave me the game plan, which was luckily pretty simple.

    • Anon for This says:

      This is very reassuring, thank you ladies! We have a well-child check for an older sib coming up really soon so I might wait to talk to my pediatrician then (he is so calming in person).

      I had a nephew with a stomach issue that required immediate surgery after birth (which was also caught by ultrasound so they did know beforehand) so of course my mind went a little haywire.

      I’ll for sure still bring it up with the pediatrician, but I think I can avoid Dr. Google until then :)

  4. Shopping help please! I need lightweight toddler shorts – ripstop, canvas or basketball short material – with a real drawstring or adjustable waist with the buttons & elastic at the sides. (We were handed down a pair from Old Navy but of course I can’t find the same style again online.) Last summer my son grew out of some of his shorts in length without ever growing into the waist. Sigh. TIA!
    Extra points if they’re easy to pull down. He’s 2 and we might begin potty training this summer…

    • shortperson says:

    • rakma says:

      Lands End has a bunch of shorts with functional drawstrings. I don’t know how lightweight the woven ones would be, but it looks like they have mesh ‘basketball’ shorts for boys.

      We got a few pair of the french terry for DD this year, and her comment after wearing them for a few hours was ‘they are good for running and dancing!’ so that’s pretty much a 5 star review around here.

    • Carter’s, Oshkosh and Children’s Place have been my go-to’s for boys’ shorts.

    • Anonysaurus says:

      H&M is great for kid’s clothes and many of the shorts have the adjustable waist band inside.

    • Look for girls shorts. They’re cut narrower in the waist. You can sometimes find some relatively-gender-neutral ones from Cat and Jack at Target, and Hanna Anderson has the Girls Free Play shorts and Very Good Sweatshorts. I dress my DS in his older sister’s hand-me-downs and they work well on his short and skinny frame.

      You might also have luck with sizing down in Garanimals at Walmart. Those shorts are $4, so it’s easy to buy a ton for potty training purposes and you don’t feel as bad for having to throw them out for bigger accidents.

  5. Blueberry says:

    I’m a big fan of the carters pull-on shorts, especially the terry ones. I don’t think they have a real drawstring, but they seem to fit my tall, skinny kids. (I just think short shorts on little boys are the cutest, so I don’t mind if they look shorter than they are intended to — shorts are a lot easier than pants.)

    • October says:

      +1 Carters, and they do have some kinds that have functional drawstrings. They usually have a big sticker proclaiming “functional drawstring.” My son is short and skinny, so the length is a little long — but hey, less area to sunscreen. Last year he also had a bunch of plain elastic waist ones and they fit fine.

  6. I posted a while ago about breast pump coverage under the ACA. My insurance (Aetna) covers a new breast pump every 3 years. My first baby was two years ago, but I was covered under a different insurance plan. I really want a Spectra – would it be terrible if I fill my prescription for a breast pump this time around? (Medela PISA was my previous breast pump.)

    • anne-on says:

      Nope! I’d view this as one for home, one for the office. One less thing to schlep with you!

    • Maddie Ross says:

      (a) Not terrible to take advantage of the pump offered to you under your plan. I did both times. Pumps wear out and extras aren’t terrible to have anyway. (b) Don’t get your heart too set on a Spectra being available to you under your insurance. It was not under mine. And I’ve heard that from plenty of other people as well. I was able to request a Medela, but not even a PISA.

    • Sarabeth says:

      Not at all, I did exactly that. Having two pumps was great, having a Spectra was even greater.

    • Edna Mazur says:

      I totally got two in a similar situation. Left one at work the second time around and it made my life so much better. Do it with a clear conscience.

    • Thanks, everyone! I was just feeling a little guilty about taking advantage of it – and worried that they would somehow find out that I got a breast pump through my previous insurance fewer than 3 years ago. And yes, my new insurance does offer a Spectra!

    • EB0220 says:

      You should definitely take advantage. I had two pumps from previous baby and didn’t feel guilty at all. I kept the 2 pumps (Medela Freestyle) at work in case one died, and I used the new baby 2 pump at home. I had the Freestyle and PISA and I HAAATED the PISA. So you would probably be happy having a Spectra!

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