Sources for cheap books


            When I talk to groups of parents about the importance of having books in the home, many of them become concerned as they project that this can be a very expensive proposition. It neednít be. Here are some free or inexpensive ways to increase the number of books in your home.


            The library is free. Pick one day a week and make it a habit to go to the library every week on that day. Check out the maximum number of books to take home.

Library sales

            Many public libraries sell their older books and books that community members donate for that purpose. You can get lots of books for ten cents, twenty-five cents, or a dollar.  Check with your library to see how often they do this and when they will do it next.

Garage sales, yard sales, and estate sales

            Youíll find rock-bottom prices at these events. Stock up!

Used book stores

            Head right to the childrenís section in the used bookstore. They will usually have a great selection and reasonable prices.

Thrift shops

            Many thrift shops have books in addition to their clothing and household items.

Classroom book clubs

            Many teachers subscribe to commercial book clubs that offer very inexpensive books to children. In my experience, there are almost always books for less than a dollar.

School fundraising book sales

            These are frequently in conjunction with a company that also has book clubs. You will usually find several bargain prices.


            Are you concerned with the excess of toys that your child has collected? When a gift-giving occasion is coming up, speak frankly with your relatives or friends who will be purchasing gifts for your child. Request that the gifts be books.

Book exchanges

            Round up your kidsí friends, invite them all to your home, ask them to bring five books that they donít want any more, and conduct a book exchange among the kids. Or suggest to the teacher that s/he do this with the entire class. Itís a good way to get new-to-you books flowing through your home.

Book clubs in the mail

            Check your mailbox. Introductory offers very reasonable.      


            Jay Davidson lives in Palo Alto and has been teaching in San Francisco for 31 years; he teaches first grade. He is the author of Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents, which is available for $12.95 from He can be reached at

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

All columns are copyright © Jay Davidson.  Permission is hereby granted for individuals to download and copy them for individual use.  There is a modest charge for printing these columns in any publication.  To receive that permission, contact   Jay Davidson