We found a little bit of wall space in our foyer, near the staircase, that turned out to be perfect for our project. The new shelves are in a visible, high-traffic area, but they're not taking up space in the living room or dining room, where they might be more obtrusive.
Owen put clear, protective finish on the shelves, and then we hung them with anchored screws, spacing them 14 inches apart (from the bottom edge of one shelf to the bottom edge of the other). I printed out labels on card stock so that each shelf is designated for the book recommendations of one member of the family ("Owen's Recommendations," "Genvieve's Recommendations,"etc.). The card stock labels are, I hope, temporary. Eventually, I'd like to apply the letters directly onto the wood, through paint or other means.
Since Ezekiel is the youngest and shortest member of the family, he gets the shelf closest to the floor. Johnny's is just above his, then mine, and then my husband's. This way, small children have easy access to the books that are geared toward children, and adults can see at eye level the books that would interest them.
Here are my current recommendations:
All titles are hyper-linked to their respective pages on Amazon. Local friends, you're welcome to borrow any of these.
Way Below the Angels, Craig Harline. Funny, painful, honest, and occasionally profound, this is the true story of one man's Mormon mission to Belgium in the 1970s. This should be on every Mormon's reading list.
The Story of the Blue Planet, Andri Snaer Magnason (translated from Icelandic by Julian Meldon D'Arcy). This has won several awards, including the Icelandic Literary Prize, which almost never goes to children's books. It's a middle grades chapter book, but I think that it has as much to offer adults as it does to children. This is an allegorical fable that entertains but also pricks the conscience. It's wonderfully disturbing and strange, yet somehow familiar at the same time. A planet is populated exclusively by children who live blissfully and simply, without any adult interference. When an adult arrives from outer space, bringing new opportunities for self-indulgence, the children must grapple with the greed, inequality, loss of innocence, and ecological impact that result.
And the terrific book peeking through from the back is The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe, Theodore Gray.
The Ark, Arthur Geisert; Sir Toby Jingle's Beastly Journey, Wallace Trip. The latter is a vintage Weekly Reader Book Club selection from 1976 that I picked up at a thrift store. Johnny is fascinated with it.
The Artistic Anatomy of Trees, Rex Vicat Cole.
Greenbelt (Images of America), Jill Parsons St. John and Megan Searing Young.