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How to Build a Children’s Home Library On the Cheap

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The best way to raise a reader is to read to your child often when they are young.  Children should also have access to books.  However, if you buy books at retail price, you are looking at spending $4 to $8 or more per book, which can add up quickly.  If you do spend that much money per book, it can be especially frustrating if your child is young and frequently rips or colors in books.  (My first one never did this, but my younger two did this more than a few times.)

Instead of spending a lot of money on books that your child may inadvertently ruin, consider buying low cost books in the following ways:

Garage sales—Most people are just happy to be rid of the children’s books when their kids grow up, so they often sell kids’ books for as little as a nickel to a quarter.  The majority of our family’s children’s books have come from garage sales.

Thrift stores—Goodwill or other types of stores often have a children’s section where they sell kid’s books for .99 cents to $1.99.  In our Goodwill, the section isn’t large, but I did find my son some good Dr. Seuss books there.

Children’s second hand stores—Children’s consignment shops such as Once Upon a Child also have a small book section where most books cost about $1.50 and are in like new condition.  These types of stores are best for young readers’ sturdy, cardboard books.

Scholastic—Once your child begins going to school, she will be able to buy books through Scholastic.  This organization offers popular paperback books for kids.  Not all of the books are cheap, but there are many times special selections that are only $1 or $2 per book.   Because books for older children are generally harder to find at garage sales and thrift stores, this is a great deal.

Paperback Swap—Have some books around your house that you no longer need?  List them on Paperback Swap.  When you ship out a book to someone (and pay shipping), you earn one credit.  You can then select the book of your choice to be shipped to you, free of charge.

Public library—Don’t forget the public library.  Sure you can’t keep the books forever, but borrowing from the library can be a nice supplement to your own library at home.  My 8 year old is such a voracious reader that during the summer he regularly checks out and reads 15 books in two weeks.  We have no plan to buy all those books, so the library is a wonderful resource.  Also, twice a year the library has a book sale where they sell books for less than a dollar.

When you buy books on a budget, you can build your child a library to enjoy at a fraction of retail.  While you may not be able to find every classic you want your child to enjoy, you can supplement what is in your personal library with the public library’s offerings.  Besides, shopping discounted places will likely lead you to some new favorites books, as it has us.

What are your favorite ways to buy your children good books for less?

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9 Responses to “How to Build a Children’s Home Library On the Cheap”

  1. Elena says:

    Public library is a great source of books. They never run out of books there :) But you need to treat them well and return your books on time, otherwise it can get pricey. Also book exchange with another family can be quite practical.
    I also like to go to book stores once in a while and look through some books and read some of them without taking them home.

    • Melissa says:

      We love the library, but now, with 3 kids,we usually have a few that are overdue because we can’t keep track of them all. Still, it is cheaper than buying books.

  2. zapeta says:

    Checking a bunch of books out of the library is the way to go!

  3. Martha says:

    Our library also likes to recycle books that seem to be perfectly good! If you don’t mind looking through their recycling bins you can find some great books!

  4. We use the public library religiously. My wife will come home with almost 20 books a week for the girls to read and some good kid movies as well – so I very much agree on that one.

    We have also done ‘book swaps’ with family members in order to introduce new books. This too is a cheap way to have a new read available.

    Appreciate the Scholastic idea. I wasn’t aware of this one. When my fist is in grade school, I will certainly check it out.

    • Melissa says:

      We give our 8 year old a $10 Scholastic limit. He quickly learned to buy the budget books so he could get more. He loves the library, but he also likes to “own” his own books.

  5. Robin Uram @ Quizzle says:

    Keeping our children’s reading level up during the off school months is so important. This is a great story for parents who want to help their children achieve high reading levels at a low cost.

  6. AHSTeacher says:

    After living in the same house over three decades and raising three children, I finally put all the books collected in a newly built library in our home. Over 70% of the books are from our children! All were accumulated from garage sales, thrift stores and Scholastic. I am holding these precious books until I have grandchildren, at which time they will be handed down. I can stand in this room and re-live book reading memories!

    You are SO correct that children who are read to will later become readers! I must also emphasize the importance of a library in completing and augmenting the academic and reading progress of a child.

  7. Shirley says:

    Children who enjoy reading have an advantage in gaining a productive education.


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