Free (and nearly free) Children’s Books

Baby and books

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this post, you agree with introducing children to books when they’re babies to instill a lifelong love of learning. I know many parents who fill their homes with books, but buying books at retail can be expensive. Of course, my favorite resource for books is the public library. While I’m always thrilled at the crowds of children attending preschool story time or summer reading events, I realize much more are absent. While visiting the library is not a priority for some families, others want to and will actually go and check out numerous books. But in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the books become overdue, or they are lost. In these cases, a person can spend more on fines and book replacement than actually buying discounted books. And children like having their own books that they can peruse and reread whenever they like.

Fortunately, I know of two great programs which will send infants and preschoolers a book a month- absolutely free – until their fifth birthday. Sixty books is enough reading material for a child to have his/her own library. And what child doesn’t love getting mail! One well-known program is Dolly Parton’s Imagination Station. In order for this program to work, local sponsors are needed, so you will need to check the website to see if it’s available in your area. If not, you’ll find information for starting a local program. The same goes for another great reading program which operates here in Georgia, the Ferst Foundation For Childhood Literacy. You simply go to their website, enter your county’s name to see if your child is eligible to receive books.

Now if you don’t have access to these programs, there are still numerous other resources for providing low cost books.

  1. Helping others move. My husband and I find ourselves once or twice a year helping friends or neighbors move. I’m amazed at the books I’ve collected over the years from these moves. There is always an offer to go through a donation pile. If the family has older or adult children, you have a great chance of finding children’s books.
  2. Yard sales and thrift stores. I don’t spend over a dollar, even for nice, board books. In these cases, people want to get rid of stuff. If they want more, I know I can find other sales for the price I’m willing to pay. The local Salvation Army store will many times offer paperbacks @ 10/$1 and hardbacks @ 4/$1.
  3. Library sales. Many of the local libraries in my area have friend’s groups which maintain a bookstore. Prices are rarely more than a dollar, and they even have sales. My favorite is to fill a bag for a set amount. Since I try to keep my book collection to a manageable amount; these stores become a revolving door as I make donations whenever I acquire “new” books.
  4. Rewards programs . Although I no longer participate, I’ve collected several nice, new books in the past five years from the Kellogg’s Reward Program. They partner with Scholastic books and offer children’s books as an incentive to buy their products. So if you buy a lot of Kellogg’s products, this is something you’ll want to sign up for.

What other resources are you aware of for free or cheap books? Please share in the comments.

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