Building Up Your Child's Library

When I first found out I was pregnant with my son, I immediately began dreaming of raising a little bookworm, a miniature bibliophile who would rather spend his afternoons with his nose buried in a book than play video games, who would get so lost in the adventures of different worlds that he would lose track of time like his mama often did when she was a little girl. While other expectant moms were debating themes and colors for nursery decor, or knitting booties and hats, I spent what little energy I had building up a pretty impressive library for my unborn child. I did it slowly over the course of several months, and at a fraction of the cost. Here's how:

1. Thrift/Consignment Stores.  It can be hit or miss, but when you get lucky, you can get really, really lucky. There was a huge thrift store about 15 minutes from my home that I would frequent on sale days, and on a few occasions, I would make out like a bandit, trucking home an armload of books for a sum of money that I could find tucked below my couch cushions on cleaning days. I probably collected about 75% of Sandra Boynton's entire bibliography and numerous Eric Carle hardcovers (not to mention classics like Goodnight Moon, Guess How Much I Love You, Runaway Bunny, etc.) at a whopping 50 cents per book. They were all in very good condition, and for the few that weren't, I just slapped on some extra-strength, clear packing tape along the spine or weaker parts of the book for added reinforcement. I couldn't have been more ecstatic about not paying $7+ per book when my son bound to drool, bite, and shred them somewhere down the line.

2. Consignment Sales.  Where I used to live, consignment sale season occurred twice a year, in the spring and fall, and I made sure to hit at least a couple each time (and remember, the early bird gets the worm when it comes to sales like these whose target demographic is the aggressive, coffee-ridden parent who has been up against his/her will since the break of dawn). You can score great deals on children's clothing, toys, and baby gear, but I always went hunting for books and also had great luck on more than one occasion. I picked up numerous board books and also a like-new, complete Chronicles of Narnia collection for about $6. I know it will be a while before my son can enjoy the Narnia series, but for the price of 1.5 frappuccinos, I couldn't pass it up.

3.  Friends If you have friends with older children, they are likely to have some books in their collection that their children have long outgrown, and that they would be happy to pass on to you. Don't be afraid to ask.  In fact, even if you have friends with similar aged children, you might consider doing a "book swap." That way, all parties involved get a fresh stack of books to add to the bedtime rotation. And maybe, just maybe, you won't have to read Goodnight Gorilla twelve times a night, every single night.

4.  Library Book Sales.  Another source of children's books at a steep discount.

**If you have any other resources for buying children's books (without breaking the bank), I'd love to hear it! And best of luck building up your child's library. Unfortunately, having an impression collection does not a bibliophile make. I'm still holding out hope for my son, but when it comes to reading time, he has the attention span of a flea and would much rather bang household objects together.

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