The Unsung Perk of Putting Books in Rainbow Order

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

Along shoes-on-or-off policies and the paper towel/rag debate, few topics are as polarizing as “rainbowtizing” books. People have feelings about their books, and how they are organized on the shelf. Yes, it’s totally a personal preference, with compelling reasons supporting every method. But I have a case to make for rainbow order when it comes to kids’ books.

Once I rainbow-ordered my kids’ books, I haven’t looked back.

With their books arranged in ROYGBIV, my kids’ shelves look really nice. Yes, they look nice when the books are put in descending height order, but can you guess how long they stay like that? Yep, not past the time when the first book gets put away.

In a child’s room, which tends to have a lot going on, decoratively and, uh, not decoratively, any space that looks harmonious—including books in eye-pleasing rainbow order—contributes to an overall tenor of order and calm.

Furthermore, when color, something children see and appreciate from a very early age, governs where books are put away, an amazing thing happens: They know where to put them away and they even do it. Their books stay in order long past my organizing frenzy of their shelves. And don’t worry, you’d be surprised how much they and I know what color spine to look for when we’re looking for our bedtime read-alouds.

A while after realizing the success of my experiment, I came across this resounding assertion that rainbow order and kids is a winning combo, from no less than the masters of rainbow organization themselves, The Home Edit.

In response to an Instagram comment on a post depicting Gwenyth Paltrow’s kids’ immaculate rainbow and white playroom that said something to the effect that it was “way too obsessive for kids,” The Home Edit replied:

“Actually, kids SHOULD know about color categorizing books… It’s much easier for them to find what they want and they intuitively know how to clean up when they’re done. It’s not just for aesthetics—it’s a system of organization geared to instinct and intuition. Kids are perfectly capable of being organized.”

Couldn’t agree more, and in our home at least, it’s proven to be true. Hey, anything that can help the kids help me—and you!—keep the house in order is worth a try in my book.