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How to Build a Kids Bookshelf

Do you have a mountain of kids books taking up space in your home? This is a fun way to store books, so your child can easily find the book they are looking for.

Display your child’s book collection like a work of art, by building a kids bookshelf for their playroom. A bookshelf wall is easy to make and can be customizable for any space in your home.

Materials Needed to Build a Bookshelf

To build kid bookshelves you will need, 1×4’s, 1×3’s, and 1×2’s cut down to 2 feet long. The 1×4 will be used as the back piece that attaches to the wall.

Then the 1×3 will be the actual shelf and the 1×2 will be the lip of the shelf.

kids bookshelf

To put it together the wood for the shelves, I used a 16-gauge nail gun with brad nails.

If you do not have a nail gun, the shelves can be put together using basic finish nails instead.

Materials Needed:

Wood Shopping List & Cut List:

  • 1×4 common board @ 8 feet (cut down to 2 foot 1×4 pieces)
  • 1×3 common board @ 8 feet (cut down to 2 foot 1×3 pieces)
  • 1×2 common board @ 8 feet (cut down to 2 foot 1×2 pieces)

How to Make DIY Bookshelf

To make the bookshelves, start by cutting all of the 8 foot pieces of common board down to 2 feet in length.

Assemble your first shelf by applying the wood glue on the edge of the 1×3 then put the 1×2 on top of it.

Realign the shelves after applying the wood glue, so the shelves feel flush.

kods bookshelf

Nail the Shelves Together

Grab a nail gun and work your way from left to right attaching the 1×3 and 1×2 with about 3-4 nails.

After the 1×2 is attached to the 1×3, flip it over to adhere the 1×4.

Follow the same steps to adhere the the 1×4 on the other side.

Continue to follow these steps until you have completely assembled all of your shelves. If you prefer a longer set of shelves, feel free to go with a long cut of wood and use these same steps.

Staining the Shelves

After wiping the shelves down with a dry rag, cut an old t-shirt or cloth to stain the shelves.

Start by dipping a small section of the cloth into the stain then wipe the stain onto the wood with the grain.

Then wait a few seconds before wiping the stain off and repeat to completely cover the shelves.

toddler bookshelf

Mounting the Kid Bookshelves

These shelves are very sturdy and can hold a good amount of weight, especially when they are mounted to a stud.

Make sure to hang the first shelf lower than you think because kids will need to access these shelves easily.

My first shelf is mounted 10 inches from the ground then each shelf was mounted 11 inches apart.

bookshelf wall

This gave plenty of room for taller books and kids can reach books from almost all of the shelves,

If you prefer not to display your books this high up the wall then you could turn these into corner shelves.

The shelves could be 2 rows of 2 on either side of the wall that but up to the corner of the wall.

Tips to Hanging the Bookshelf Wall

To adhere the kid bookshelves to the wall, I used 2 ½ inch dry wall screws, a stud finder, and a level.

Start by finding the location where you want to hang the shelves, then find 2 studs that span that area.

Pre-drill a hole right through the shelf and into each stud then screw in the drywall screw.

Display Your Books

Stagger the book heights and thicknesses so they fit on the shelves nicely. Avoid putting heavy thick books toward the top of the shelves in case your child pulls the book down by accident.

After you finishing setting up the bookshelf, your kids will be excited to pick a book out each night before bed.


The great thing about these shelves is that you can easily repurpose them after you child has outgrown bedtime reading.

These shelves would look great as decorative shelves or for displaying pictures. I created these same shelves in a longer length for picture ledges in my living room.

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