May 17, 2012
Last month I shared our craft storage solutions for small space living (say that fast five times). Today I want to share with you how we're building a small space homeschool library.
When I mentioned writing about this in my Spring Book series, there was a strong interest. As in, "please do write about this Renee".
I am happy to oblige since this topic marries homeschooling, books, and organizing - three of my loves.
Several of you were interested in both how we set up a homeschool library in a small space and the books we choose to own. This first post is about our physical library space - how and where we keep the books. I will write another post on the books that are actually in this library.
For the last six months our family has lived in a 750 sq. foot chalet. But even before living in this small space we endeavored to keep our homeschool library to a minimum.
A small homeschool library? Don't homeschoolers want their kids to read books? Hundreds and hundreds of them?
I can't speak for all homeschoolers but I can say unequivocably, yes, we want our kids to read hundreds of books. In fact, we're literature based homeschoolers, learning from living books, not texts. We just don't think we need to own them all, in hard copy.
And at the risk of being called a homeschooling heretic I believe you can homeschool well with a limited at-home library, as long as you can access other resources in your community and on the Internet.
If you have a good library in your community, or access to inter-library loan you are in a sweet spot and truly don't need to build an extensive at-home library if you don't want to.
Let's say you don't have access to a good library but still want to keep your hard copy (books that take up space) book collection to a minimum. Hello e-books and e-readers.
In case you're wondering what kind of homeschooling freaks we are ("they want to keep their books to a minimum?") let me re-iterate something here. This is not about limiting our children's access to resources, rather it's about keeping our living space requirements to a minimum.
Why would we do this? Keep our living space small while raising three kids.
Because we want to have freedom from a big house. The freedom of no mortgage (that's the big dream we're working on). The freedom of less maintenance. The freedom to travel and in short, spend our time and resources on other things besides a house. Like hiking for six months, traveling to Europe for an extended stay when the kids are teens, and going to Montréal for a month.
That's the philosophical foundation to why we'd even consider limiting a homeschool library. (Just like we limit the collection of everything else in our life.)
We want to live in a small space, because small spaces free up resources of time and money.
But then of course, there's only so much stuff you can fit in a small space. It goes without saying that we don't have a "school" room either. My post at Simple Homeschool in June will talk about small space homeschooling in general. Let's get on with the library part.
Like I've said already, for the past six months we've lived in a small cabin. Thankfully the chalet has lots of big windows. I think this is key to enjoying small space living - lots of natural light, this isn't a pioneer prairie soddie we're living in.
Part of the reality of lots of windows and a small house is very little wall space. In fact, virtually no available wall space for traditional bookshelves. If we were here long term we would build something to suit our purposes but we're not so we've made due and this is what we've used.
We bought these handmade crates when we used to live in Maine. They were built by our farmer's husband, who was a professional woodworker. They are unfinished pine and cost us $10 each. They are solid, made to last. They were an incredibly good deal.
We left them unfinished (we're lazy like that) and if we're not careful we can give ourselves slivers if we reach into a crate absentmindedly. I've learned not to do that.
We also own a couple less sturdy boxes, antiques actually that we picked up over the years at yard sales and such.
We're not the only people onto this I idea. I found a few cool links, how to make shelves out of apple crates.
Some of these links show how to make an honest to goodness shelf, stacking them up permanently. We have preferred to keep them unattached so we can move them around the house where needed. This has been very handy in our current home where we have to get creative about the space.
The double great thing about these crates is that if they are sturdy enough (and our farmer/woodworker ones certainly are) that you can move books in them also. With all the moving we've done this year this has come in handy.
I seriously love these crates so much. Unlike the plastic bins we use for craft supplies they are both functional and beautiful.
If you don't have a farmer/woodworker in your life (we don't right now) you can check the larger chain craft stores, this is what one family did in the links I shared.
Maybe you could even pay a high school shop class (do they teach that class anymore?) or a technical school student to build them for you if you aren't handy with wood and tools yourself.
I know some of you are curious about what books are actually in those crates. You can tell by the photos in this post. But my next homeschool library post will have a more detailed description of the type of books we own.
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One of the questions I got was:
"I want to make some of these for myself. Yours look like a good size. Could you please tell me the dimensions of your "farm" made apple crates?"
Here's my sketch, with dimensions.
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