Having a home library is an excellent goal to strive for! Here are some of my favorite ways to start building a kids book collection.
As you all know, we are serious about growing healthy imaginations around here. A huge part of encouraging creativity is reading to our kids often and from an early age. Libraries are amazing resources for borrowing books, but owning books is important too!
Allowing your kids to grow up around rich literature and beautiful illustrations is, in my humble opinion, an essential part of raising well-rounded kids. (Do I sound like a Charlotte Mason homeschool mom? Haha!) But seriously – all the best stories with all the great pictures help your kids form imaginative thoughts. First they mimic what they see/hear, and eventually it gives them the thinking skills needed to create ideas that go beyond what they’ve read!
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Benefits of Owning Books Instead of Borrowing
In addition to expanding their imagination, there are tons of other reasons that it’s a good idea to read to your kids often. But beyond borrowing books from the library, owning books for them has a lot of its own benefits. A couple of them are:
- Teaching your kids to be responsible. Let’s face it, books ARE a responsibility. They aren’t like other toys that you can just dump out and let your kids play freely with. Unless you have some Indestructibles books for your baby/toddler, books can get easily ruined if not cared for properly. So learning how to take good care of them helps your kids work on being responsible!
- Giving them unlimited access to books (other than any limits you place on them while they learn that whole responsibility thing). Being able to read their favorite books over and over again is an excellent way to foster a love of reading. My kids pick out books to bring into bed every single night, and there are always a few that get chosen over and over again. With library books, it’s always a sad day when a beloved book has to be returned.
Ok, now that I’ve made my case for building a home library, let’s discuss some ways to do that AFFORDABLY. Because let’s be honest, this can turn into an expensive addiction if we let it. But we aren’t going to do that! We have options! So here are my favorite ways to build a book collection for kids.
Building a Kids Book Collection
1. Book Sales
This is by far my favorite way to snag some amazing books. Ask your local library when they will be having a book sale – ours often do them in the spring and fall. This is where the library sells some of their books that were either donated, they have an excess of, or just haven’t been checked out much lately. We have found some gems at these book sales!
It’s especially wonderful when building a kids book collection since there are so many great kids books offered at them. We typically go on the day they have a “bag sale” which, for us, is where they charge a flat rate of $5 and you can bring in a bag to fill up! Probably half of the books we own have been acquired this way.
2. Thrift stores/yard sales
Yes, of course thrifting is always the eco-friendly choice! Again buying used books, but this time there may not be as much of a selection depending on the thrift store/yard sale. This is an excellent way to add books here and there.
Whenever we are going to a thrift store or yard sale anyway, I will always scoot over to check out the book collection. You might luck out and find someone else’s home library THEY had built to add some to your own.
When going the route of buying books, Biblio is hands down my favorite website to use. They connect with small business bookstores around the world to provide you with a huge source of used books! There are other sites like this such as Thriftbooks or Abebooks, but I have found Biblio to consistently have the largest selection to choose from.
Having access to so many bookstores is especially helpful when you are looking for a specific book, rather than just what you can find at a library book sale. I use Biblio more than anything else when stocking up on books for our upcoming school years.
4. Book trade with other moms
At our local homeschool co op, we have a table set up each time we meet where anyone can put well-loved items out for someone else to take. There’s a variety of items, but a lot of it is old books! Since I can’t resist a good book, this is the section I look over each time we get together.
If you have a group where something like this is already established, sweet! If not, it would be a fun activity to start! Get together with a group of friends and have everyone bring some books their family has read and moved on from, or that they are just simply willing to part with. Put all the books out and swap with each other!
5. BST Facebook groups
Take your mom book swap and make it even bigger – using facebook! You should be able to find a local buy-sell-trade group in your area to join. I live in a very rural area, so I had joined the one for my county, as well as a neighboring county. You can also look for “buy nothing” groups where things are only given away for free.
People will post when they have items to get rid of, but you can also write a post sharing what you’re looking for! People often are getting rid of older kids books as their kids get older or just lose interest in certain books. Either way, it can be a helpful resource in building a book collection for you and your kids.
This one may be a bit more time consuming, but the end result can be worth it for some of the gems out there! Archive.org is an awesome way to gain access to older classic books for *free*. Thats, right – free! They share books once the book has become public domain, aka once the copyright expires.
We like to use this website in a pinch if I can’t find a book for our AO reading list at a reasonable price, but I just read it to them from my computer screen. This is great if you just want *access* to great books, but if you want a physical copy you can download and print the books out! Might sound a little crazy but hey, you really can’t beat holding a physical book in your hand.
7. Mom or Homeschool giveaways
Follow any mom or homeschool bloggers on social media? Keep an eye out for giveaways! It’s an easy way for different moms or businesses to gain followers, and you get the perk of a potential prize! I have a couple of books that we won through various giveaways.
8. Add books to wish list
The next time someone asks you what your kids would like for their birthday/Christmas/etc., show them a wish list with books on it! Make them the really fun and special books that will be exciting to open, like pop out ones or the next chapter book in their favorite series. More books and less toys is always the goal in our house!
9. Utilize library
I know we are looking for ways to build our home library, but sometimes borrowing is the best way to do that! heck out a bunch of books at once from the library, and a constant stack of library books still fills the shelves. It’s a great way to keep a steady flow of rich literature in the house without having to spend a ton at once.
This last idea is more to give you easy access to the books you want to want. Sometimes there’s a book you just HAVE to read, but don’t have the $20 to buy it and maybe it’s new and not found on used book sites yet. You still have options!
Signing up (for free!) on the Libby app connects your library card and lets you borrow books right from your phone. This is the way I get almost all of the audiobooks my kids listen to. (A truly wonderful alternative to TV when they are having some quiet time.) You can also borrow ebook versions of the books you want to read, if your library has access to it.
A Living Library for your Kids
There are so many options for building a book collection for you and your kids! It might seem like an overwhelming task, but start slow and it will build brilliantly over time. The other piece of advice I would say is to still be purposeful with the books you choose. Don’t just grab as many books as you can at the book swap, pick good ones!
When I first started going to book sales I would go crazy with the amount of books I brought home. But a lot of them weren’t very good and therefore, didn’t get read. Or I bought the book simply because I liked how it looked, rather than wanting the book itself. Those didn’t get read either.
Books are such a vital part of childhood. Building your kids a beautiful selection of living books is one of the best gifts you can give them. Let them fall in love with heroes and heroines, fly through fantastical worlds, and get lost in a good book.