One of the best parts about my son growing older is seeing his fervent desire to look at books and be read to each and every day. At four years old, we’ve moved well past basic board books about colors, shapes and counting and have transitioned into stories, chapter books, and collections of favorite characters. With his love of books increasing so too is our book collection, and our bookshelves have quickly become overcrowded. Moreover, my son has been getting increasingly frustrated when he can’t find a particular story at bedtime.
While hardcover books stand on their own pretty well, the biggest problem was our mounting collection of soft-back books. Fellow parents know these books all-too-well! They are inexpensive and filled with great stories for our kids, but they are flimsy and slippery and make a good mess of bookshelves! To not only keep our books better organized for my son, I also wanted a solution that would help keep these skinny books standing up right. We were clearly in need of some sort of child-friendly book system so I fashioned some easy files from cereal boxes and pretty paper!
These are an easy and fun DIY that can likely be pulled together using items you already have around the house! Here’s what you need:
To Make 1 Book Storage File Box:
- Cereal box (or similar) in your desired size
- Contact paper (recommended for the inside of the box)
- Wrapping or craft paper (recommended for the outside of the box)
- Packaging tape
- Spray adhesive (not shown)
- Tools: Scissors, pencil, rotary cutter/cutting mat (optional)
First, you will need to trim down the cereal box to create the file box shape. I found it easiest to start with the box fully assembled.
To make the file shape, measure up from the bottom of the box 3” and across the top (from the opposite corner) 3”; then connect the two marks with a straight line (see cutting guide below). Repeat the measurements on both sides of the box, then trim out as shown.
Note that 3” is a measurement that can be adjusted based on the aesthetic you desire and the size of box you start with. Once you trim down the box, it should be similar to the photo below.
To completely camouflage that these organizers are made from cereal boxes, I chose to paper both the inside and outside of the file box. If you do not want to cover the inside of the box, you can skip this step. Otherwise, start by breaking the box down so that it lays flat. Next, trim a piece of contact paper or adhesive shelf liner to fit the dimensions of the unfolded box. Remove the paper backing from the contact paper and place the cereal box inside-down onto the sticky side of the contact paper. Trim away the excess contact paper to reveal the cereal box shape.
To proceed with wrapping the outside of the file box, it is easiest to re-assemble the box. Use packing tape to reinforce the seams and make it as sturdy as possible.
Start by trimming down some wrapping paper or craft paper to a dimension that will fully cover all sides of the file box. Then, using an adhesive of your choosing (I recommend spray adhesive), fully coat the entire outside of the file box (including the sides and bottom).
Place one side of the file box down onto the back side of the craft paper, lining up the edge of the paper with the back of the file box. Using a scissors or rotary cutter, trim away the paper following the perimeter of the file box, leaving 1/2” extra all the way around for folding over the top edge.
Carefully flip the box onto the remaining paper and smooth out any bubbles on both sides, making sure the paper is fully secured to all sides of the box. Then, trim away the excess paper on the other side, again leaving ½” border around the perimeter.
Starting on the bottom, fold the paper around the box as if you were wrapping a present. Trim corners and use extra adhesive where necessary to ensure everything is tight and lays flat.
Around the top perimeter, use a scissors to slit the paper at each corner to make for cleaner folding. Use adhesive along the edge and then tightly fold over the paper to the inside of the file box to finish the raw edge.
Repeat the process with as many cereal boxes as you have or need!
To keep our collections of books together (and to help my son when he’s looking for a particular story), I chose to make little picture labels for our file boxes. I simply found the character faces on Google Images, printed them out and mounted each one onto cardstock circles. They are secured with tape so we can easily swap them out as necessary!
The boxes are surprisingly sturdy by themselves and can certainly stand alone, but to stabilize them even more (especially once they are loaded with books), use paper clips to secure them to each other in the front and back of each file.
The last step is to load the files up with books and display them for your child to see and use! You can make as many as you need and secure them together to make a large book file for your entire bookcase! These weren’t on my son’s shelf 2 minutes before he started perusing his collection and looking for just the right story to read next!
This DIY book storage using cereal boxes was a great way to kick off getting organized in the New Year! Not only do these simple file folder works for books, but they would also be great for mail, important papers, recipes or anything else that might need sorting and organizing. What’s best is that they are super inexpensive to make and use things you probably already have around the house! So start saving up those cereal and snack boxes, pick up some pretty paper and make some organizers for a variety of things around the house!