Building Your Homeschool Library on the Cheap

Books. No matter which learning style your child has, no matter which teaching method you ascribe to… a homeschooling mom needs books! How do you grow your home library without breaking the bank? Here are some tips for building your homeschool library on the cheap.

building your homeschool library cheap

Check your library.

Decide if some of your books can be borrowed instead of purchased. My local library carries many of the books recommended for a number of the popular homeschooling curricula. When I was considering some of these boxed sets, I created lists for each level and made note of any book used for less than 4-6 weeks. I considered those ‘borrowable.’ Books that were used for more than 6 weeks I added to my ‘buy’ list. While at the library, I routinely check the sale section. I have been able to add lots of picture books to our collection for the younger children by browsing the sale shelves. Some of them were given to us for free because of my educator card. Be sure to request the needed books a couple of weeks before you’ll need to use them. Otherwise this no/low-cost resource will create a hold-up to your progress.

Shop local thrift stores.

I rarely walk out of Goodwill or Community Aid (my two favorite thrift stores) without a book in my bag. Through thrift store shopping I’ve found many great readers and chapter books for the children as well as some used curriculum and vintage handbooks and texts. Our local stores have discount days, so I try to shop the days that I’ll have the best discount. I did have to start carrying a list of the books we already owned for Five in a Row, because I started picking up duplicates and triplicates. Oops! However, if you’re on message boards or forums for a specific curriculum, you may be able to sell your doubles to build your supply fund.

picture bookshelf

Browse yard sales.

With a growing number of homeschooling families, finding school-worthy yard sale finds is getting a little easier. Craigslist is another great low-cost resource. It takes a little patience to search, but finding what you need at 70-80% off of the price for new is definitely worth a little bit of your time!

Create a book wish-list to share with friends and family.

Each of our children receives a book from us for Christmas as one of their four gifts. I also like to keep a list of book collections that the entire family would benefit from receiving, and I share those with people who ask about gift suggestions for the children. I have a sizable wishlist on Amazon for school supplies and books that would make great gifts throughout the year. I keep those lists public for easy access by others.

Obtain digital copies.

I’ve been able to download many Kindle versions of great classics for FREE. I don’t mind reading aloud from the tablet or allowing my children to read some of their books on the tablet. This way we save money in the long run as well as valuable shelf space. There are only so many book shelves I can cram into our home. Plus, with my Kindle we’re also able to keep a number of field guides at our finger tips for nature study, as well as having some school books handy if we get called to last-minute travel.

Saving some money by building your homeschool library on the cheap helps free up funds to add new curricula or more art and craft supplies when needed to keep the children’s creative juices flowing. Finding a good portion of our resources inexpensively allows for a little more wiggle room when it comes to more costly additions to our homeschool.

What are your library-growing tips?

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  1. I don’t know if this is widespread, but my library sells used books for 50 cents. It supports them expanding their collection as most were donated.

  2. I use manybooks.net for free ebook copies of public domain or creative commons books. They are available in multiple formats (I do not have a Kindle, but I do use the NOOK app and also read PDFs).

  3. I’ve purchased most of my daughter’s books at regular big name book stores & toy stores. Whenever I am near a store, I go in just to check the sales. It’s hit and miss, but sometimes I score big. I remember once I was pushing my daughter’s buggy, and already had the buggy full with groceries, but Winners had a ton of great books at ridiculous prices. We’re talking brand new $20 books for $1 or less. I had no place to carry them but there was no way I was leaving without them, somehow I managed. I’m sure I looked just hilarious to anyone that saw me as I was walking home.

  4. We trade in our books we’re done with at a local used book store and then get store credit to choose new books. It’s a great way to cycle through books we don’t want to keep in our permanent collection.

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