How to Build a Home Library On a Budget

Guest post by Jodie Rodriguez from Growing Book by Book.

I discovered Growing Book by Book a few weeks ago and was instantly smitten. Jodie’s passion for early literacy pops off of the screen. Her blog shares children’s book lists, author-illustrator highlights, book activities and more. It’s definitely worth checking out and this post is no exception. I hope you will find a few new ideas for building a home library on a budget.


Becoming a proficient reader involves practice, practice, practice. Every reader needs text to practice their growing literacy skills. Building a library can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s look at some inexpensive ideas for collecting a wide variety of books.


Book Fairs/Sales

Many libraries, schools and community organizations hold book fairs throughout the year. These sales often sell used children’s books for $.25 to a $1. Last summer, our local middle school was holding a book fair to raise money for their band program. I spent $5.25 and walked away with 15 books! The Book Sale Finder website will help you locate fairs/sales in your area.
If you are a teacher, librarian or homeschool teacher, then you can also take advantage of the Scholastic Warehouse Sales, where you can acquire new books for up to 80% off the retail price. Sales are held throughout the year in various locations within the United States. Save even more by printing off the online coupon on Scholastic’s website.


Yard Sales

Beginning in the spring and often lasting until the fall, you can find numerous yard sales in your area. Many times you will find gently used books starting at $.10. I like to find sales in my area on Craigslist. Many people also advertise in local newspapers and by hanging signs in the neighborhood.


Thrift Stores

Thrift shops often carry lots of donated books. This option has always been hit or miss for me. Sometimes I can find some great items, but I often leave empty-handed. The key is to check back often because new items are put out daily.



If you are looking for an exact title, then shopping online is a great option. Some of my favorite sites to visit are: Better World Books, Ebay, and .Craiglist is also good if you aren’t looking for a specific title. Type in “children’s books” in the search bar. A recent search in my community netted 295 matches. This time of year, you will find many retiring teachers posting books for sale.


Book Orders

Your child may have brought home a book order flyer each month this school year. This is another great way to collect new and current books. Items are usually under $5 and for every book ordered, your child’s teacher will earn bonus points to get more books for the classroom. Though these books are new, they usually have a staple binding meaning they tend to fall apart sooner. I highly recommend reinforcing the book spine with clear packing tape before your first read.


Book Swap Parties

Are you looking for a free way to collect books? Do you have books that your child is no longer interested in reading? Hold a book swap party. Invite other families(How about all the families from your child’s class?) over to your house or a local park. For each used book that a family brings, they get to swap it for a different book at the party. For extra fun, have snacks and hold book talks during the event.
I hope you enjoy building your child’s library with these ideas.


Meet Jodie

Jodie Rodriguez is a National Board Certified teacher, reading specialist and administrator with over 17 years of experience. She currently stays at home with her two young sons. Her newest adventure is the creation of the Growing Book by Book blog dedicated to helping caregivers nurture young readers.

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About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4.5, 3 and 1}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.


  1. To that great list I would add, if you are in the US you should see if the Dolly Parton Imagination Library has an affiliate in your area. It provides one free book in the mail each month from birth to school age, each selected to be age appropriate for the child and is a wonderful resource.

  2. Great idea, Lea! I’ll definitely check out Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. It sounds like an AMAZING resource. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. We get lots of books from our library. Several times a year they hold Friends of the Library sales and they sale kids books for a quarter!

  4. What great resources! We have picked up quite a few books at library sales. I can’t wait until a Scholastic sale is in our area.

  5. Love this post! So huge! Books can be expensive but they are so very important! Thanks!

  6. I couldn’t agree more, Marnie! Books are invaluable.

  7. Scholastic sales are AMAZING, aren’t they?! Such great deals.

  8. Going to Friends of the Library sales is a fantastic idea, Melanie!!

  9. Try It is an online book trading group. You pay for shipping the book and that is it. Would be a great way to “trade” books once read.

  10. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!!

  11. I love books, and I hate paying brick and mortar bookstore prices for them. One of my favorite ways of getting books cheaply is going to library book sales. Oftentimes, books are $1, but if you go on the last day, you can usually get a large box or bag full of books for $10. Plus, it goes to a great cause. To find local library sales:

    Also, if you have access to Half Price Books, their clearance section is awesome! Most clearance books are less than $3. :)

  12. Awesome suggestions, Diana! Thank you so much for sharing the link. I’m excited to check it out.

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