Dollar Store Hack: Using Crates as Bookcases and NOT Ruining Your Books

In ten years of teaching and five different schools (military life), I've only once had enough bookcases for my giant classroom library. The first time I encountered this problem, I bought wire bookcases from Target and aside from the fact that they were less than fun to put together, they did their job. Shortly after that, I found some purple crates, which were much easier to put together.  I began to use them to hold my excess books that didn't fit on the shelves that were in my room. Since then, I've added additional shelves based on my color schemes and additional needs as my library grows and grows because yes, it's super challenging to not order tons and tons of books from Scholastic each month.

The problem I've encountered can be seen in the picture above. Whether it's a wire bookcase or a crate, there are lots of openings, which means that the books don't stand up or fit in the way that they would if you were using a regular wooden bookcase. For those that like things nice and neat like me, this can drive you a little bananas. I often see students attempting to take a book out, and the spine of the book getting stuck in one of the holes, which results in the student forcing it out and is not kind to the spine. So while I bought crates to keep my books safe, I've started to think that they are doing more harm than good. So this year I decided to do something I should have done ten years ago.

Enter the Dollar Store. Don't you just love how the Dollar Store has everything you need/don't need/can find a use for? Well, it turns out that the Dollar Store had just what I needed in the kitchen goods aisle. I present you the Flexible Chopping Mat, in a set of two bright and wonderful colors, one of which just happens to be part of my classroom color scheme. I currently have four crates being used, so I grabbed 4 packs so I could have 4 blue mats.

Back to the classroom I went and the fun began. 

Just $4.00 saved me a lot of money in book replacements and sanity too. It's also more aesthetically pleasing so it's definitely a win, win! Though I didn't use them now, I know those purple ones will come in handy in the future, especially since I still have my purple crates from my early years of teaching. I'm sure I'll use them someday when my theme includes purple again! 



  1. Great bookshelf "hack." Thank you!! I have an entire bookshelf made out of black milk crates! I have another one that I use for supplies. This tip would work for that, too!! Guess I need to make time to hit Dollar Tree today. Thank you!!

  2. LOVE this So simple! I've used cardboard but this is much prettier!

  3. That is a great idea!! Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    Mind Sparks


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