Book Bins for Calvin

A couple of weeks ago Jaeger and I decided we needed to do something about Calvin’s books. I do not feel like Calvin has an excessive number of books. However, they were spilling randomly out of his shelves and we were running out of places to stuff them.

Because I don’t monitor Calvin closely in his own room, I don’t want bookshelves that are high enough they could topple onto him. My first plan was to buy a 3rd shelf that matched the two he has now. However, it turns out they don’t make this shelf anymore. So, I started to look for alternatives.

I found a lot of very cute bookshelves that were unsuitable because they couldn’t handle the number of books we have. Eventually, I decided I should take inspiration from an organization that specializes in having vast quantities of picture books available for browsing: the library. Most newer libraries have “book bins” that allow for easy browsing at the child’s level and have shelving underneath the book bins for extra storage.

I found some book bins from Jonti-Craft that I liked. However, they cost a bit more than I wanted to spend for furniture that would last a relatively short time. Once Calvin grows taller and graduates away from picture books, the book bins will have limited functionality. Calvin’s favorite was a taxi book bin. It is very cute but would have an even shorter lifespan than the basic book bins.

After a while, I stumbled across some modular storage cubes. These are meant to be stacked on top of each other, along with other furniture in the set. However, I realized I could rotate one of the divided storage cubes and create makeshift bins. I ordered two to see how feasible my idea was.

The first set of cubes arrived. As “promised” they are hollow-core and definitely not superior quality. However, my idea worked fairly well and the manufacturer even included brackets to bolt the two pieces together1. The only thing that I hadn’t realized was how deep a 15″ bin is. The good news is it easily handles Calvin’s largest books. However, Calvin has to stand on his tiptoes in order to flip through the books. I tried thinking of a variety of ways to fix this problem. The “easiest” solution would have been to cut the boards down to the correct height. However, the hollow-core construction made this seem like a bad idea. Eventually, I decided a step stool worked well enough2.

Having decided the prototype worked well enough, I ordered 4 more divided cubes. Since each divided cube is about 30″ wide, three sets fill one side of Calvin’s room almost perfectly. The cubes arrived yesterday and I spent most of the evening putting them together.

Like the rest of Calvin’s room, the book bins are very white3. This evening I let Calvin decorate the book bins with some Lightening McQueen stickers. It wasn’t until he had the stickers on that I realized we had inadvertently created a Lightening McQueen theme in his bedroom. Calvin’s sheets, step stool, and stickers are all related to Lightening McQueen.

I’m fairly happy with the bins. There’s enough space to fit all Calvin’s picture books in the top bins. The far-right bin is reserved for library books and can accommodate them all. The lower shelves contain his board books, chapter books, and beginning readers. As Calvin gets older, we can unscrew the book bins and flip them around to provided additional book shelves for beginning readers and chapter books.

Calvin poses with his new book bins.

Calvin poses with his new book bins.

  1. Screwing the bracket to the back of the cube is tricky because the wood kept trying to split. However, screwing it into what normally would be the “bottom” of the cube worked flawlessly
  2. During our earlier brain-storming sessions, Jaeger suggested, mostly in jest, that we should get Calvin four-foot high shelves that spanned the entire wall and came with a ladder on wheels. I’ve always wanted something like that for myself. Too bad it isn’t very practical, at least for us.
  3. When we first moved into this house we gave Calvin the option of picking his room color. The prior owners had painted the room green with a purple accent wall. I thought Calvin was going to decided on purple but he surprised us by insisting on white.

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