Thursday, March 06, 2008

Frugal Home Library

One objection I sometimes hear to homeschooling is "It must be so expensive." Not really. Not only is it possible to buy curriculum inexpensively, a home library provides excellent resources for your homeschool. But books are expensive, right? They can be...But they don't have to be.

The cheapest way I've found to build your home library is used book sales. City libraries almost always have a yearly book sale of some kind, and some even have free tables or free rooms. In the city where Billy and I last lived, one of the local colleges accepted book donations all year and had a huge sale in the basketball coliseum. (Billy really loved this one because sometimes the families of deceased pastors would donate their entire libraries, providing an awesome selection of Christian books.)

These sales are almost always reasonable. I've been to some that charge a dollar or so for hardcover books, to as little as 10 cents apiece. Our local library has a sale where they charge 75 cents an inch. You can get a lot of children's books at that price. The other day we happened on a special sale that charged just $2 for all the books you could fit in a paper bag. By the time we were able to attend, the books were well picked over, but we still came away with 3 large bags of wonderful books, including children's classics as well as older history and science books. We spent just $6 for 50 or more books!

A side note that really has nothing to do with frugality: I love old history books because they are far more accurate (and less PC) than more recent ones. Science books may not be as up-to-date, but typically those about nature are still very accurate and tend to have beautiful illustrations. Finally, I really enjoy children's fiction from the 50's and earlier. I've noticed that there was a sharp turn in children's literature around 1965 from happy innocence to much darker subjects. Even the convers are less cheery. I might be old fashioned, but I think small children should read happy books. They will have enough death, depression, and drama to deal with in real life without providing it for their entertainment. Now that my 7-year-old is reading well, I'm much more aware of what I provide for her reading pleasure. Many years of used book shopping has taught me to scan spines for books that likely fall into these categories.

So call your local library and see if they have any kind of sale. Even if they don't they can probably point you in the direction of someone who does.

One more bit of advice: If you do find a good sale, try to arrive early. You'll discover that dyed in the wool bibliophiles will do just about anything to have first choice. At the college sale I mentioned, people camped out with lawn chairs and snacks as early as 3 hours in advance just for a chance to be first in the door. It became a fun tradition for us, too. It might sound like a lot of hassle, but it's worth it to build a home library for a little bit of nothing!

Frugal Fridays hosted by Crystal.


Jen said...

We, too, loved used books and have an "in" with my FIL being a librarian:) He has supplied us with hundreds of discarded library books, just right for our brood.

I love the idea of paying by the inch or by the bag...VERY economical!

Edi said...

I love to do the same with our library - but I had a bad experience the last time.

They held the sale in a couple of very small rooms and women were in there with their HUGE baby strollers (might have even been one w/a double stroller). Too crowded!!

Charity Grace said...

Wow, you do have a great "in," Jen!

Edi, I should have mentioned that you have to be willing to put up with crowds. I've been to book sales that surely broke every fire code in the books. I guess you have to have kind of a polite killer instinct if you get there at opening time. :)

Niki said...

Thanks for sharing! I love buying used books for my little one too. We have been to many a library sale, plus we do paperback trading at a local shop in town.

Sonshine said...

So true! I love going into the used book sales or even looking at garage sales for books!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right - library book sales are wonderful. I have been able to create a home library with textbooks, old classic books, great for literature studies and science books written as research books. I just love these sales!


Donetta said...

Great finds! I'm with you those old books are the best. I love the old hardy boys too. The children have read so many of the early readers. The vocabulary is so rich as well.

Christy said...

Thanks for sharing this great idea!! Sometimes, we try and go on the last day of the sale, where we can get a whole bag of books for $1!! Books are my weakness...but with prices like that, it's o.k to splurge!!!

Have a wonderful day!!! :)