Introduction: Build a "READING RAINBOW" Book Shelf

About: I try to push myself each day to be more resourceful, innovative, & creative. I am constantly inspired by some of the brilliant minds here on Instructables, & I hope that I can inspire others as well. I think …

There is no better way to guarantee your kids will love something then to just have them design it themselves. This whimsical book case was dreamed up by my 5 year old, and with a little family collaboration it became a reality. It is a sure way to brighten any room, and make reading a HAPPY past time. 

I asked my daughter what I should make for the furniture contest. She responded, "a rainbow," immediately I was reminded of my childhood memory of the television program called "Reading Rainbow", and new that a book shelf would be just the thing! 

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
Large sheet of 3/4" plywood (8'x 42")
10 dowel rods cut to be (1/2" x 13.5" )
Fabric (any color) 
Wood glue
Wood putty
Sand paper
8 wood screws 2"
Optional: Fabric dye if you want to do tie dye.

Step 2: Cutting the Arch

To start you will sketch out your arches onto the sheet of wood.
1.Find the center of your sheet to divide it into halves. Then find the center of each half
2. Then use a protractor to draw a large circle in the center of each half. (The circles will fill the entire half) Then draw a 2nd circle inside each of your first. Making 2 large doughnuts.(The 2nd circle will be about  11" in from the first creating the width of the arch)
3. Then take a straight edge and draw a line from the outside edge of the center circle to the short edge of the sheet. This straight edge creates the inner arch. The outer arch is created by the larger circle and edge of the sheet.

You will now have 2 identical arches sketched onto the sheet. 

Cut out the arches with a jigsaw.

From the scraps measure & cut 2 platforms that are 11"x12" (The dimensions of the shelves)

Step 3: Drill the Holes

Next you will want to drill the holes for the dowel rods.
1. Mark your arches with a pencil where you would like your rods. (Mine are 15" apart and 1/2 in from the edge.)
2. Drill with a 1/2 inch bit
3. Fill any chips or gaps in with wood filler.
4. Once filler is dried sand your edges smooth all around.

Step 4: Fabric Shelving

To make the fabric shelves. You will need to have a finished length of fabric that is 170" long & 11" wide in total (I say finished because you will want to allow for hemming when you cut the pieces.) This is what I did for mine:

1. Cut 2 pieces that are 71" long by 12" wide (The extra 1" is for the hemming & seam allowance)
2. Cut 1 piece that is 31" long by 12" wide. 
3. Roll up & tie dye the fabric (if you are using a solid color just skip this)
4. Sew pieces together and hem the edges so that you have a finished size of 170"x11"
5. Sew a series of loops and gaps according to the diagram. 
6. Check your work using one of the arches & the dowel rods.

Step 5: Painting

Now we can go back to work on the arches and get them painted. At this time we will only paint the inside portion of the rainbow because the rest will be painted after assembly. Painting is one of those things that is completely up to you. I painted the inside of mine white to resemble clouds. I also painted the 2 platforms white. Next I painted the dowel rods a bright yellow. I was thinking they could be our beams of light. Once everything is painted and dried you can begin the assembly.

Step 6: Assembly

To assemble the shelf: 

1. Screw & glue the platforms on at the base of the rainbow.
2. Add a little wood glue in each of the holes for the dowels
3. Slide the dowels into one hole from the inside of the rainbow, then slip the corresponding fabric loop on & push the rod through the matching hole on the other arch. 
4. Repeat this until all the dowels are in place. 
5. Wipe of any excess glue.
6. Fill in any holes on the front with the wood putty & let it dry.
7. Once the putty is dry sand it smooth.
8. Now you can paint on the rainbow. I followed the good ol' ROYGBIV pattern and did some clouds at the base. Don't forget the edges too! It didn't quite look magical enough so I sprayed on a little glitter.


Step 7: Top It All Off

My children have just loved it from the very beginning of the project. My 2 year old was constantly asking if it was done yet, and they both attempted to play with it before it was even finished being constructed. There is just something about rainbows, they are just irresistibly playful.I topped my magical rainbow off with a giant cloud pillow, a couple storage bins, and of course lots of books. My kids really enjoy it & I find them reading books more frequently. I think that the shelf pays perfect tribute to the television program & promotes reading as an ENJOYABLE past time!

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