Book rotation: The why and how

If you’re a parent you might have heard about toy rotation but have you thought of doing it with books?  For those that are scratching their head wondering what we’re talking about let’s clear things up a bit.  Toy rotation is the process of putting out a small selection of your child’s toys and packing the rest away for later.  Then you regularly change the toys, say every couple of weeks.  It definitely takes some planning and a bit of time but the benefits are worth it.

The same goes for books.  There’s no set way to do it so we’ll share what’s worked in our experience.

  1. Rotate the books on the same day each week. It becomes a little ritual they really look forward to!
  2. Let your child chose six books to put out.  Letting your child choose helps increase their interest and shows them they have say in some decisions.
  3. All the other books are stored in lidded boxes out of sight.  The out of sight bit is important.  Otherwise little hands will get into them and create a chaotic mess of books in two seconds flat!

It’s that simple.  A couple of other tips…

  1. Have a small set of books in their bedroom that doesn’t change very often
  2. If you have more than one child, try to have a shelf or space for each of them

But why bother?  What’s the point?  Because there are lots of benefits for you and your child!  Here’s some that hopefully make you think it’s worth the extra effort…

Benefits for your child
  • It helps them to focus, increase their attention span and avoid over stimulation.  It also makes choosing easier.  Picture yourself going to the supermarket.  The simple task of grabbing some yoghurt becomes a nightmare…your eyes dart from side to side and up and down scanning the shelves…low fat, full fat, greek, coconut, natural, strawberry, vanilla and then there’s which size and which brand too!  A shelf crammed with books can have the same effect. It’s overwhelming!
  • After the 10th reading of the same book you may be questioning your decision but repetition is crucial for language learning.  Children need to hear words many times over before the learn them.  Having a small set of books means they have lots of opportunities to hear the same words over and over again.  And perhaps you can use your new talent of reciting ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ as your next party trick???
  • All children thrive on routine and predictability.  The weekly rotation becomes a part of their routine and most children love it. You may find them reminding you it’s new books day!
Benefits for you
  • No more masses of books scattered across the floor to clean up.  Imagine making yourself a drink at the end of a long day.  You sit down on the lounge, glance over to the shelf and, at worst, see six books on the floor.  Not too bad.  And the added bonus is even young children are capable of putting six books back on a shelf.   With six books they’re not crammed and overlapping.  A book can be taken off the shelf without a cascade of other books.  And they can be put back on just as easily.  It may take some prompting and reminding at first.  Just keep in mind that feeling of sitting down at the end of the day without a single book to pick up!
  • What’s old is new again.  You don’t have to have a collection of children’s books that resembles a small library.  When a book is brought out that’s been stored away for a month or so your child will most likely have a completely renewed interest in it. It’s a money and space saver.

So perhaps this weekend you can give it a go.  Head out and buy some storage boxes.  Pack all the books into them together, get your child to choose their first six books and watch the change.  And one last word of advice…you may need to stick at it for a month or two before you all find your book rotation groove.