Friday, March 9, 2012

Good ways to find GREAT books!

I'm sure this goes without saying, but Robyn and I both have A LOT of kids books.  We're the kind of people that bought, and read, and asked for children's books before we even had children. (I remember one year pouring over the decision of which book I wanted more for Christmas from my husband: Sector 7 or Officer Buckle & Gloria (Don't worry, I have both now.)  Also, I frequently give books as presents (even to other people's children, but always to my own--every birthday, holiday, pretend made up holiday when I just want them to have a new book).  And, I have been known to sit and read picture books even when my kids are busy with something else. 

So, having said all that, finding the right books can be troublesome.  Big book stores are frequently understocked and overpriced.  And many cheap books are poor excuses for literature, or they're so commercialized you feel like you're watching television instead of reading.  How can someone looking to build a wonderful library for their children (on a budget) find good books?

We have some ideas (and even if you're a collector we might have a new idea or two you haven't tried)...

Get familiar with some really good authors/ illustrators
I'm not saying the only good books are written by well known authors, I have lots of favorite books that were written by authors I don't know much about and illustrated by illustrators I'd never before heard of... I'm just saying if your out on the hunt for good books it a WHOLE LOT easier if you can recognize the names of tried and true authors and illustrators.  There are certain authors who write LOTS of books and if you know you like their work- then it's likely you & your children will enjoy books by them you've never heard of before but happen upon. -r  

Find characters you and your children LOVE 
Books with great characters are BIG MONEY for publishers and BIG FUN for book collectors (kids or adults).  When I was a kid I wanted to get my hands on every "little critter" book out there, and there are lots.  It's a great way to encourage a love of reading in your child and it's a great way to start building an at home library.  If you know your child loves Curious George keep your eyes open for those books... and you'll find them all over the place, from your grocery store... to your book store... to your thrift store... etc. -r  

Advice on buying from book orders...
I realize the book order is not a new idea for a place to find books, but I really think they are under-utilized as a source of good quality, cost effective books (yes they have TV junk and posters (which I loved as a kid by the way) but look past those things.)  There are a lot of really good books available through the school market!  And, now you can do the order online which gives you access to the club shop where you can find even more deals on books you love that aren't even listed in your flyer (example: I was looking for a copy of Duck on a Bike for a friend-- I just typed in the title and BAM!-- found it, $4, add to cart!  Plus if you are looking for a deals to build your home library, Scholastic always has collections of books available (usually stocked with big sellers or favorite characters and often priced under $2 a book.) -w

Stop by your local used book store!
Now, to be clear, I am not talking about thrift stores here.  That's a whole 'nother ball park.  I'm talking stores that specialize in used books.  Confession: I just checked the one in my town out a few months ago.  Next confession: it is totally awesome and I feel so stupid that I haven't been going there forever!  As you can see, at 'my cool book store' (that's what Robyn and I call it) you can buy books, sell books to them, or trade books-- and (I didn't know this before I went in) they have brand new books too!  At a discounted rate! (At least 50% off-- gasp!) You must go see what your local used book store has to offer!  It may just be the hidden paradise mine was! -w

Buying Books at your Local Thrift Store
 The D.I. is my local thrift... and let me tell you, it's a gold mine for books!  This is easily the biggest contributor to our families at home library.  I wasn't always a thrift book collector.  In fact I was pretty skeptical of it at first.  There are a few tips to being successful at book thrifting.
1- Stop by often.  You are more likely to find great books if you're able to go once a week, or once every two weeks.
2- Go through all the books.  There is A LOT of garbage you're going to sift through to find any treasures.  Most of the books on the shelves are ones I don't want to take home.  But I usually find 5 or 10 titles that are really great and at fifty cents a book... that's a great deal!
I have found MANY treasured books at thrift stores, sometimes books that are rare out of print copies. -r

Library Sales!
This is a great way to find second hand books (library bound... which is so great) at excellent prices.  You do have to do a little leg work though.  Find out when your local library sells books.  Then go (right when the sale opens).  That's it.  My library always has it's BIG sale at the beginning of September (the rack photographed above is up throughout the year).  The big sale coordinates with the towns big yearly celebration.  I know some larger libraries have quarterly book sales... probably some have them even more often than that.  And there's a bonus that all the proceeds go back into your very own library! -r 

Yard Sales-- for real! Check this out!
 Above you see just a small glimpse at my yard sale book loot. People, let me tell you I have seriously scored at some yard sales.  See those big stacks at the top of the photo? Those are classroom sets (aka multiple copies for a whole class) that I got from a retiring teacher for $2 a set.  In case you're missing the magnitude here, let me spell it out.  I GOT 29 COPIES OF THE VELVETEEN RABBIT FOR $2! Even if you're not a teacher, you must try book shopping at yard sales.  I have found good books that are like new, priced for under a dollar.  You can't beat that! -w

Host a neighborhood book swap with friends!
My little sister and her friends have been having clothing swap parties for years... last summer when doing a bit of book organization in my house (aka filling boxes with duplicate copies of books I've picked up and paperback novels I read once and won't ever read again to make more room for all the kids books I'm always bringing home) I suddenly thought "why not be like Bonnie, but instead of exchanging clothes with my friends we can exchange books!"  So I hosted my first neighborhood book swap.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  And there were MANY MANY MANY books.  Everyone brought lots and everyone left with something new to them.  All of the extras that nobody wanted were donated to our small towns start up library.  (Along with books, everyone brought a tasty something to add to the pot luck treat table... that was such a fun afternoon!) -r
This is something new I just learned about from my sister-in-law. Sorry I don't have an image for this one, but you really still must check it out.  Here's the idea: You list books you're done reading.  Somewhere in cyberspace someone else is listing books they're are done with.  Now, type in the titles of the books you wish you had and... Presto!  Chango!  Mr. Internet magician will see if anyone has listed the books you want.  If someone has, that person will ship them to you and just like that the books are yours-- to keep! (And, they'll pay for shipping, you return the favor by paying the shipping when someone requests something you've listed,) For the logistics, click here. -w

So, we hope these ideas will help you find some great new, or just new-to-you books. Happy shopping! Happy reading! Happy weekend!  Remember if you're in her area on Saturday, stop by and see Robyn at Girls Day Out, she has a lot of fun stuff planned!

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