But where do we keep the school supplies?

We don’t have much in the way of “curriculum” at our house.

No workbooks, no teacher guides, no workboxes, no folders, no binders… honestly, not even very many notepads and pencils and crayons and drawing papers.

But you know what we do have?


Books, books, books, books, books.

I’d not too long ago shown off the main floor of our house, plus our basement rec room, which are some of the major spots where learning happens.

So as part of the Not Back to School Blog Hop this week, instead of showing off our “homeschool room,” which isn’t really a thing we have, I decided to show off the homes of our favorite resources.

Welcome to the Otto Family Bookshelf Tour, 2012 edition!

Bookshelf in homeschoolers' basement

Let’s start in the basement, shall we? So one of our side businesses as a family is that we have an online bookstore, and this is the main set of shelves in our “book room,” of inventory listed for sale. Before it sells, though, we often find ourselves “borrowing back” a title for impromptu reading!

Bookshelf in homeschoolers' basement

This is the smaller set of “stuff for sale” shelves in the book room, aka my husband’s Ephemera Warehouse. Not pictured in this room are also boxes and boxes of ephemera, a shelf of vintage schoolbooks and some of Ashar’s craft supplies. Sadly, it is also our guest bedroom.(Doesn’t everyone’s guest bedroom feature a futon and 2,000 books, and nothing else?)

Bookshelf in homeschoolers' living room

Amazingly, for being People Who Love Books, we didn’t have a bookcase on our main floor until earlier this year. Which is pretty weird. This one is now actually our end table next to our sofa. (I mean, doesn’t everyone have a bookcase of things like a collection of National Geographic magazines and books about Indians and the Titanic, with a stuffed armadillo on top, next to THEIR sofa?)

Bookshelf full of fairy tale books

Finally, let’s move upstairs, home of most of our “reading” books as a family. This is Chris’s bedside bookcase, home of what is probably the world’s largest library of books by Ruth Manning-Sanders. (Doesn’t everyone’s husband have a collection of books by a deceased and somewhat obscure fairy-tale author… OK, I’m done.) These are actually WONDERFUL books, and make up a good part of our bedtime reading, complete with wonderful voices by Chris.

Homeschoolers' bookshelf in hallway

When you’re out of room for bookcases, of course you just put one in your upstairs hallway, outside the bedroom door, like this one. This is home to all sorts of stuff – some great Robert Sabuda pop-up books, which are a Christmas tradition from my mother-in-law; Ashar’s fiction collection, which is dwarfed by her nonfiction collection, and most importantly, on the second shelf from the bottom, between the bookends, at left is the start of Ashar’s OWN Ruth Manning-Sanders collection (so that Chris can maintain his own!)

Homeschoolers' bookshelf in teenage daughter's bedroom

This is the larger of the bookcases inside Ashar’s room. It’s a nonfiction powerhouse – including that tome on Van Gogh at left, which Ashar actually asked for one Christmas when she was about 9, as well as every Lego Brickmaster book ever made. Note the minion cameo at top.

Homeschoolers' bookshelf in teenage daughter's bedroom

And this is our combination oldest-and-newest shelf. I actually BUILT this poor thing when I was in the eighth grade. Yes, really. It’s terribly thin, has no back, and is really only sized for paperbacks. But Ashar’s former bedside table was becoming a teetering pile of reading materials, so I rescued it from the not-too-often-dusted lighthouse collection in my bedroom and donated it to the cause of good reading. (At top: Life of Fred books, The Key to the Indian, claw-machine penguin…)

Also, immediately to the left of this is a plastic under-bed tote full of… more books!! “The ones I want to keep safe,” Ashar says.

Did you enjoy your tour of the Otto Family Library? We hope so – because this really shows where learning happens!

(Oh, and in case you missed the first installment, our entry for “Curriculum Week,” last week’s theme, was the unschooled version of a seventh-grade-ish curriculum plan.)

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15 thoughts on “But where do we keep the school supplies?

  1. Love love love. Just this week I moved a bookshelf out of our BATHROOM. One of my girls (who would die if I mentioned her name) went through a phase where she would read the dictionary while occupying this room in the house. Every day she would update me on her newly acquired vocabulary.

    I would feel lonely without my books around to comfort me. They are friends.


    • Jess, I fully, fully agree. (And good for your daughter for reading the dictionary, if, uh, a little unusually!)

      You’re right – these ARE friends. When I’m upset, lonely, stressed… I turn to a good book! 🙂

  2. They sure do take up a lot of space… when we lived in a 600-square-foot townhome (my mom, my daughter and me, when Sarah was just little), we had books PILED everywhere. It was not pretty, but honestly, we had so much more stuff than we had space for anyway, so… the books won 🙂

    I am just glad that’s not a problem now! I am blessed – how many people can say they have a “book room”?

  3. Wow! And I thought we had a lot of books everywhere! ::grin:: I don’t think there is a room in the house that doesn’t have at least one book in it! Even the bathrooms! (Some good reading and learning happens in the bathroom! ::wink::) I’ve been purging some though, about half our school books. Sometimes you have to share with others!

    • I’m pretty sure our bathrooms either have some in them too – or they are “carried in” as needed 😉

      You’re right – sometimes you do have to share! We’ve been lucky that way; we love helping books find good homes, as silly as that might sound. My husband says we’re the adoption agency for unwanted literature.

  4. We also have books all over the house, and we have a reasonably small house 🙂 Books are a bit of a weakness for me! They are one of the primary ways we do “school” in our house.

  5. Woot! WOOT! Congrats! Your post was the #3 most clicked link on Homeschooling on the Cheap! this past week. You are being featured on my blog. Stop in and see your feature and I hope that you link up more of your awesome, kid friendly ideas!

    Thanks, Kelli

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