Our Friend the Dewey Decimal System

Non-Fiction Photo

Many parents are surprised to find that we still use Dewey Decimal System in our library. Maybe they haven’t seen it in so long that they forgot it existed. Maybe they heard other libraries were using different systems for non-fiction. Maybe they never learned how to use it in the first place, and they sure as heck aren’t going to start learning it now. Whatever the case may be, Dewey is still alive and well in our library, and learning a thing or two about it can make all the difference in the world when it comes to helping your child find books that interest him or her the most.

As a refresher, Dewey Decimal is a way for books that are about the same subject to be grouped together. This was, the author name does not matter. If your child wants books about tigers, you will find all the tiger books next to each other on the shelf. While looking at tigers, your child may decide he wants a book about lions too. Thanks to Dewey, lion books will be near the tiger books because their subjects are very similar.

The categories for Dewey look like this:

000-099 = Computers, Information & General Works

100-199 = Philosophy & Psychology

200-299 = Religion

300-399 = Social Sciences

400-499 = Language

500-599 = Science

600-699 = Technology

700-799 = Arts and Recreation

800-899 = Literature

900-999 = History & Geography

I am going to be honest and tell you that I found this list on a bookmark that we offer in the library. BUT, as a children’s librarian, these are not the words I associate with those numbers. No child ever comes up to me and asks for a book about “Social Sciences” or “Philosophy.”

For the sake of this blog entry, I am making a more kid/parent friendly version of the categories for Dewey.

Mine looks like this:

000-099 = Guinness Book of World Records, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not

100-199 = Ghosts, Witches, UFO’s

200-299 = Mythology (for the Percy Jackson fans), World Religions (Bible stories, Hanukkah stories, etc.)

300-399 = Book Report Zone: Civil Rights, Slavery, Women’s Rights, Immigrant Experience, Environmentalism, Divisions of Government, Military, Careers, Disasters, Schools, Holidays (Phew!) Let’s not forget the 398’s, quite possibly the biggest section. 398’s are traditional stories, such as fairy tales and folk tales, think non-Disney Cinderella, Aesop’s Fables, and Grimm.

400-499 = Sign Language, Braille, Foreign Languages, Dictionaries

500-599 = ANIMALS!, DINOSAURS!, Constellations, Earthquakes, Science Experiments

600-699 = FIRETRUCKS!, TRAINS!, ROBOTS!, Inventions, Human Bodies, Weapons, Cookbooks, Lego’s

700-799 = Crafts, Drawing, Minecraft, Where’s Waldo, Magic Tricks, Sports, More Lego’s

800-899 = Jokes, Shel Silverstein, Shakespeare for Kids

900-999 = Book Report Zone: Ancient History, World History, US History, Wars, Native Americans, US States, and, most importantly, Missions

I hope this helps you navigate of Non-Fiction section better. Remember, Dewey doesn’t have to be scary, and, when in doubt, ask a Librarian. We are happy to help.



Miss Angie

I am a children's librarian at SCPL's Canyon Country Library. My favorite things are funny books, ice cream, and the Matterhorn at Disneyland.

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