10 Ways to Build a Home Library for Less

We are regulars at our local library and often have up to 50 books and other media out at at one time.  I ♡ the library a lot but I must say, my kids gravitate to the books we own more.  We have tons of children’s books stashed on low shelves throughout the house.  They like to get cozy on their lambskins and pull out a bunch of books, sometimes asking to be read to, other times paging through books on their own.  They thoroughly enjoy reading familiar stories over and over again.  Even at night, when we all get in bed together for reading time they pick books from our shelves while I am the one who slips in the library choices.  I do think our extensive home library it is a big reason my kids love books so much.

A well stocked children’s home library can represent a big expense.  Occasionally I do buy brand new books we simply can’t live without but we have also accumulated a lot of great books for little or no money!

Here are several ways I have added to our collection for less and some I have yet to try…  

  1. Sign up for Freecycle!  Freecycle is an online community where you can offer up things for free within your local community.  We have received a few stacks of great books this way all the while clearing out my basement of no longer needed baby gear!
  2. Visit your local library’s store.  Libraries use most of their donated books to generate revenue.  Our library sells paperbacks for 50¢ and hardcovers for a dollar!  Don’t forget to check out neighboring libraries.  There is one near us that puts out piles of books for free weekly and another that has a yearly outdoor sale and when the sale is over the remainders are free!
  3. Participate in or start up a book swap in your neighborhood!  Our school system’s PTO ran 2 of these this years and we found some great books to add to our collection!
  4. Create an Amazon wishlist!  Add a bunch of books you would love to have and direct people there for birthdays and other gift giving occasions.  I suppose it can feel forward but sometimes people do asks what you and your child might like to receive.
  5. Shop the book sections of the thrift stores in your area.  Similar to library sales, books are usually cheap and the proceeds usually go to charity!
  6. Yard sales are another place you can find books cheap cheap!
  7. I have never tried this one but if you have friends with older kids you could just ask if they have hand me down books for you.  I bet a lot of people would love to help and clear out some space on their bookshelves!
  8. Enter blog book giveaways!  Many, many blogs do book giveaways and I feel like I have won more than my fair share!  Subscribe to Pragmatic Mom, she hosts many and check out Boys and Literacy’s Kid’s Lit Book Giveaway Linky for a heads up on others.
  9. Try online book swaps like Book Mooch.  Again this is another avenue I haven’t tried but if you would like to edit your collection why not try it!
  10. Get a part time job at a bookstore or become a distributor for wonderful publishers like Usborne and Barefoot Books and then enjoy their discounts!

Have more ideas on ways to build a home library for less?  Please share!

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This post is linked up with the Play to Learn Blog Hop at Mama Smiles!


I'm a practical mom inspired by nature & I enjoy sharing ideas that encourage kids' innate curiosity & creativity. Interested in subscribing? Check out the blue box at the top of my sidebar. I'm also a wannabe author/illustrator & product designer by day. Let's connect! doodlesandjots@hotmail.com. If you purchase through my Amazon links I get a small commission at no additional cost to you (thanks for supporting Doodles and Jots)! And remember to always credit your source here & elsewhere on the internet.


  1. I think I’ve gotten books from almost all of these sources! Yea for books!! Instead of an Amazon wishlist, I have a Wishpot wishlist that I refer to whenever someone (Grammie) asks what she can buy for the kids. Same thing, though, and a real lifesaver because I totally draw a blank if someone asks me for ideas and I don’t have them already saved!
    Elisa | blissfulE recently posted..David the OlympianMy Profile

  2. I love this post because I love books.
    I try to let our local library be our library, but that only means that I buy Less books than before. I still buy books. There are still books I just have to have and ones that I want my son to have.

    I love to buy used books. Yard sales are the best for true bargains, but Amazon for used books is great if you know what you want.

    I like your other ideas and plan to check out the book swap site!
    Thanks for the ideas!
    Kris recently posted..Application of Impossible Things – Book ReviewMy Profile

  3. Thanks for the shout out! You remind me that I have to clean out my library! I like to get books to build my KidLit library from yard sales! My elementary school also used to a used books sale which was a great way to raise money and get great books that other parents’ kids had outgrown.

    Libraries have great used book sales too!
    PragmaticMom recently posted..Week 9: Rising 2nd Grade Summer Math ProblemsMy Profile

  4. Love this post and these unique ideas! I’m sure going to try some. Unfortunately some other resources that you mentioned won’t work here in India….
    There’s another option that we have and I’ve found it useful and purse-friendly. In our neighbourhood, there’s a rent-a-toy shop at a monthly fee. These people have a good collection of books too. We usually pair up a toy and a book or two – every week. This way we’ve been able to rotate toys and books without sending much. The toys are really nice and expensive sorts (imported) that we wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise…
    (this is a great business model too if someone wants to try…!)
    Rashmie @ Mommy Labs recently posted..Visual Reflections on Learning and Children: John Holt QuotesMy Profile

    • That is a very cool business idea!!! I would definitely have used something like that if we had one here!

      In Massachusetts you can request books from any library and they will send it to your local library. Our library also has lots of movies, games, and educational toys to take out and all this is all free. It is the most incredible resources!

  5. We love to read at our house, too! I think it is a great thing to do, especially if you’re considering skipping preschool (which we are). This is a great list to help build a good library of books for kids. I had never thought to check freecycle.

    In our area we have this great discount store called Ollie’s (sort of a Big Lots, but usually cheaper). They have all kinds of books. It’s hit or miss, but I did pick up several copies of the Very Hungry Caterpillar board book to give as gifts for $3 each! That has been a great way to add books to our collection.

    Thanks for stopping by the February Play to Learn Blog Hop! We’ll be hosting next months hop on the first Saturday in March. Make sure to stop by!


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