Buying Summer Reading Books For Kids On The Cheap

Summer is coming. There is no denying it, at least if you live in the Northern hemisphere. Days are getting longer. Winter clothes are being stored in attics to await the return of cooler nights. Kids are ready for the school year to end. Summer vacation will be upon us in the blink of an eye.

What are your plans for your summer vacation? How will you be keeping your kids busy? Whatever we plan in the summer months, reading is always a big part of our expectation for our kids. Fortunately, they are old enough that their schools give them plenty of reading over the summer but not every school is as demanding.

If your kids have summer reading for school, or if you just want to make sure that they continue to read even though school is out, buying books can be an expensive proposition. Of course, there is always the local library, but sometimes it is nice for kids to own the books that they read, especially kids who like to return to the same titles over and over again. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways that you can add books to a child’s library without breaking the bank in the process.

Visit Yard Sales: The price point for books sold at yard sales is very low. Paperbacks are often sold for a nickel or a dime and hard cover books are not sold for much more than that. Visit yard sales with your kids and tell them that they have a fixed budget for books, and only books. You will be surprised at how many books that you can accumulate over the course of one summer for only a few dollars. At the end of the summer, tell your kids that they will be allowed to sell any books that they have actually read and that they can keep the money that they get. It will help to encourage them to read.

Visit Used Book Stores: Most cities of any size have used book stores. Often, they will have great deals on kids books because the resale market for recent books is usually poor. As an adult, you may also find a few inexpensive literary treasures as well. I recall buying most of my books at the now defunct Avenue Victor Hugo Book Shop in Boston many years ago and rarely had to spend more than a dollar per title. I still have many of those books today.

Visit Book Stores that are Going Out of Business: It is a sad reality that in this economy, many book stores are failing. Take advantage of those failures to get deeply discounted books, especially as the date for the store closing gets closer.

Visit a National Chain Book Store: Many national chain book stores offer reading incentive programs. Borders, for example, will give a book to any child under age 12 after the child reads ten books this summer. For more information check the Borders website. Barnes and Noble usually runs a similar program each summer as well.

Form a Book Club: Organize a book club for your child and their peers. Each week, have each member bring two books to trade and then have each child describe each book before the trading begins. The kids will enjoy the event and the parents will benefit from the ready source of new reading material.

Don’t forget that a child whose parents read is also more likely to be a reader, so make sure that you read as well! What books are on your reading list for this summer? What books would you like to see your children read?

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6 Responses to Buying Summer Reading Books For Kids On The Cheap

  1. FinanceFreak says:

    Great information and resources. Thanks.

  2. A Fan says:

    Great article, David! :)
    I would like to add one to your list:
    Keep your eyes open for FREE BOOKS!
    Watch Craigslist in both the “Books” category and the “Free” category as well.
    Join the “Freecycle” in your area. Someone that is moving and cannot take their books with them will gladly give them a new home.
    Join “Book Crossings” online where you can find free books at different locations.
    Thrift stores sometimes have a box that is marked “FREE” on it and you can retrieve free books from it.
    :) I hope that everyone is having a safe and enjoyable weekend!

  3. mjrube94 says:

    Check out You trade in books that you no longer want, which give you credits. You can use those credits to get books that other members have posted for free. I used it to get my daughter’s summer reading books last year, and will do it again this summer. Clearing out clutter is an added bonus!

  4. Mark Arend says:

    Why buy? Check out your local public library. Most libraries have a summer reading program for kids and some have programs for teens & adults as well.

  5. Gail says:

    Also look for Friends of the Library sales where the library sells off used books. Many have a bag day and at my library the kids books go for a donation. But sadly I see many kids or parents (especially on $1 a bag day) with only one or two books in there hands and hundreds left behind. I know as a kid I would have been in hog heaven to have had a chance to buy books for that cheap. I don’t understand on bag day why someone will only pick one or two books–stuff that bag full!!!

  6. Christine M. says:

    also check out — you list books (and DVDs, CDs and video games too!) you have, and books you want, and when matches are made you swap via mail, just paying the shipping price, which with Media Mail is usu under $3 :)

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