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6 Inexpensive Ways to Build Your Home Library

Imagine this: a home library filled with an assortment of books on all subjects. Your kids can explore interesting topics, dive deep into imaginary worlds, and read to their hearts’ content. You’re cultivating their love of reading with each and every book you add to your collection. There’s just one catch: building a home library can be a daunting and expensive task.

Having a collection of books at home is a great way to encourage kids to read. Thankfully, there are many inexpensive ways to grow your home library. We’ve compiled a list of 6 inexpensive ways to build your home library.

A boy lying on the ground on his back reading a book with his feet up against the bookshelves
  1. Thrift Stores and Secondhand Shops

    Begin at your local thrift stores and secondhand shops. As children grow up, families often get rid of their children’s books by selling or donating them. As a result, these types of places often contain forgotten gems just waiting to be rediscovered. Many are gently used and inexpensively priced, allowing you to build your library at a fraction of the cost of buying new.

    Used books for sale arranged on a table
  2. Book Swaps and Community Libraries

    Cities, towns, and schools often organize book-swap events or set up mini-libraries where people can exchange books for free or at a minimal cost. These are a great way to refresh your collection, add some variety, and interact with your local community.

  3. Library Sales

    Public libraries frequently hold sales to clear out old or donated books. These sales often feature books at incredibly low prices, providing an excellent opportunity to fill out the shelves of your home library without needing to spend much money.

    Two hands looking through rows of books
  4. Book Subscription Services

    Another cost-effective way to build your collection is by signing up for a book subscription service. These fun services send you new books each month, and you’ll usually pay far less than you would if you bought them separately. Not only will you save money, but the books are curated and you can choose a theme or reading level that suits your children.

    Here are a few options to check out:

  5. DIY and Repurposing

    While the books are usually the most expensive part of building a home library, saving money on the furniture can help free up some funds. Get crafty by making your own bookshelves out of everyday objects like crates or old ladders. A fresh coat of colorful paint can brighten up the space and make it more fun and inviting for your children.

    For some extra tips, check out our blog post on creating a cozy reading nook for your kids!

    A girl toddler stands next to a pile of books and reaches into a bookshelf made from old wooden crates
  6. Online Resources

    The internet is full of free literary resources. For instance, websites like Project Gutenberg, Open Library, and Google Books offer an extensive collection of classics and public domain books that can be downloaded for free. Print out the pages and turn making the covers and binding the books into a fun craft activity!

While books can be expensive, we hope that implementing these 6 inexpensive ways to build your home library options will make it easier and more affordable. Do you have any tips of your own to share with us and our readers? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!

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Amy

says:

Having a wide variety of excellent books (of all levels) in my home is so important to me in raising my 3 little homeschooled boys. As a young girl I determined to read every book in my elementary school library so I know the value of having a great collection. But it can be so expensive. Thanks for the tips!

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amy! Having a wide selection of reading materials is very important, but please don’t overlook the resource of your local library.

Allison

says:

We love checking out library books.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Allison,
Yes, I agree! I love making good use of the library. It’s an awesome source for audiobooks too!

Sarah

says:

Great ideas! We stopped at a Thrift store awhile back and all books were only 5¢! We got some amazing books as a result! Thank you for the Project Gutenberg suggestion. I always forget about it.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
WOW! I hope you found some great finds at that 5-cent book sale!

Bobbie

says:

Great ideas! I didn’t know book subscription services were still a thing. I was signed up for one as a kid, and always looked forward to opening the boxes of fresh, new books.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Bobbie,
Subscription services are more of a thing than they ever were before! Not only are there multiple options for book subscriptions, but there are science, engineering, art, cooking, world snacks, geography, developmental play, coding, and so.much.more for ALL ages from newborn to adult! You can find a subscription box that will interest every person you know!

Lori

says:

We’re fortunate to have a massive consignment sale in our area twice a year at which families sell everything pertaining to raising kids…including a room piled high with books!! As most of the books are priced at $3 or less, I can get a ton for a very low price. Last month at the most recent sale, for instance, I paid $68 for 35 books! And don’t forget yard sales, especially in neighborhoods that have lots of kids and teens!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great tips, Lori! Thank you! Used curriculum and book sales are amazing resources to build a library, and so are yard sales. At yard sales, you can often get great classics for 50 cents or so!

Amanda Blandford

says:

We like the books from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library which sends books to your house for kids 5 and under for free. The kids look forward to getting a new book to call their own.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Amanda,
Thank you for the recommendation! The Imagination Library is a wonderful program!

Janette

says:

We try to be flexible about the format the books we get or borrow come in. This means borrowing an audiobook or e-book version of certain titles from our local library, looking for free e-book titles (many classics are in the public domain and available for free), or being willing to purchase an e-book version because it is cheaper even than used.

Robin

says: Customer Service

What a great suggestion, Janette! Thank you. Yes, e-books and audiobooks are wonderful alternatives for many.

However, some struggle with reading digitally, and it is worthwhile finding print books if your child expresses a preference for them. My kids went off to college and still spent the money ($$$$$) on textbooks even when e-book textbooks were free. They all felt that they could not adequately retain information and study from e-books. There is research that shows that comprehension is better from printed books than e-books too.

Becca Beck

says:

If your kid is 5 and under, see if Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is available in your area. They send you a free book each month from ages 0-5. My daughter was too old when it started where I live, but my son has been enjoying the books, and since a few of them are bilingual, she’s been reading them to practice her Spanish.

Robin

says: Customer Service

What a great tip, Becca! Thank you! I rushed out to tell my son and nephew about this, so my grandson and great niece can receive books!

Elissa

says:

I usually peruse people that I trust, look at their recommended list, then go to Thriftbooks.com and find it there.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Great approach, Elissa!

Amanda

says:

Great Ideas!! Didn’t know much about subscription services before, thanks for the intro!

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Amanda! Subscription services make getting books especially fun for kids, because who doesn’t love to get a package?

Rachel

says:

Yes, I am all for finding inexpensive, good books! My parents passed onto my siblings and me our childhood homeschool library including many out-of-print books.
Additionally, I use Thriftbooks to order specific books. They are reasonably priced.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
I love that a large home library is a generational thing for your family. What a great thing to pass down! Thanks for mentioning Thriftbooks too.

Diana

says:

If your local Little Free Library has a Facebook page follow it! I usually have a huge overstock and have giveaways a couple of times a year. I also host a weekly Story Time at the Park in the summer and have a few boxes of free books for people to peruse.

Robin

says: Customer Service

Oh, what a great resource, Diana! Thank you!

Jenny

says:

We have an amazing used bookstore near us that I frequent often! We haven’t bought many new books recently and I love it!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Jenny,
What a great resource to have good used bookstore nearby!

Tracy Laney

says:

Love our home library

Robin

says: Customer Service

Me too, Tracy! It always brings a smile to my face!

Suzy Duvall

says:

Great ideas here! I need to use Open Library more for my oldest, thanks for the reminder!

Robin

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Suzy!

Bobbie

says:

Just make sure you check for bedbugs in used books…;)

Robin

says: Customer Service

Oh, no! Thank you for the tip, Bobbie.

Jennifer Weiss

says:

Love these ideas!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jennifer!

Holley

says:

Love this. We can’t get enough Book around here.

Robin

says: Customer Service

We agree, Holley!

Lauren Fagan

says:

Love these ideas!!!

Robin

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Lauren!