I don’t know about you, but I LOVE going to used book stores and used curriculum fairs and browsing shelves for beautiful books. I think it’s the hunt that most intrigues me.
Becoming a bibliophile has been a rather recent transformation for me. I have always said I enjoy reading but rarely had the time, or made the time to actually read. I guess discovering books with your kids can really bring you back to that love of reading. It is definitely because I’m homeschooling that this love of reading has blossomed for me.
Learning about living books and reading these wonderful treasures has me so thankful that I can give this kind of an education to my children. I am a Charlotte Mason homeschooler, so books are kind of the back bone to the whole operation.
We use Ambleside Online, so I’m always on the lookout for the books that are used in that curriculum. One of the really great things about AO is that most of the books can be found online, for free. I save any book I don’t have a hard copy of (yet) into my Google Drive so I can access it easily anywhere.
But I do prefer the hard copy, the book you can hold in your hands. Naturally, I’ve become a collector.
These are a few of my favorite ways to find really good prices on really lovely books.
Used Book Store: Ask around in your homeschool groups or ask your librarian, someone will lead you to a used book store near by. One of my favorites is about an hour drive from me, it’s huge, and I bring along a friend and we have lunch and make a day of book browsing (and buying).
Most of the books I’ve found at the used book store are $1 but more rare finds have been up to $5. I have also collected a ton of old children’s books about birds. I really enjoy these and the illustrations are fantastic. I’ve found many of the D’Aulaire books, poetry books, paperback free reads, and nature books.
Library Sales: These sales usually have the absolute best prices. Our sales prices are usually $2 to $5 for a special, rare, or older classic book and as low as a quarter for paperback and fifty cents for hardback children’s book. It seems that libraries are happy to sell of all their living books. In fact, a few weeks back I was asking for some non fiction books that was in story form vs the fact listing type of non fiction, and the librarian basically said they were phasing those types of books out. It’s so sad.
I’ve found classics like the Chronicles of Narnia set, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, and The Little House on the Prairie books.
Curriculum Fairs: This is a great place to find your science and nature books or geography and special history and literature books. We had a large curriculum fair a few weeks back and there’s a fairly large community of Charlotte Mason homeschoolers around here looking to pass on their books.
I’ve been very fortunate to find some of the Holling C. Holling books, more classic literature, field guides, Story of the World, poetry books, art books, and more nature books. Prices are generally fair (closer to the $5 to $10 range depending on what you’re looking for) but they are also not as great as the library sales or used books stores. You will be more likely to find what you’re looking for at the curriculum sale because the books are coming from other homeschooling families.
ThriftBooks: If you know me, you know I LOVE Thrift Books. Actually, I purchased from them today (every few months I find myself placing an order). I was able to round out our home library with more year 2 books I’ll need soon, along with some drawing books and a personal read I’ve been wanting to add to my shelf. That was seven books for a total of $30, that’s about a $4 per book average. If I had placed that same order on Amazon it would probably be an average of $10-12 per book (for those selections).
Anyway, I can usually locate some harder to find books on ThriftBooks. When the book sales don’t have those few certain older, more rare finds, and it comes time to needing them, ThriftBooks usually comes through for me. Last year I grabbed Lamb’s Shakespeare stories, The Blue Fairy Tales book by Lang, among others.
Their prices change a lot and they offer several editions, so if you are particular just read carefully to be sure you’re getting the version you want. They have a wishlist capability as well so go ahead and plug in all the books on your list and when it’s price changes or it comes in stock (if it wasn’t) they will notify you. Oh and they offer free shipping for orders over $10 and they have a reading rewards program. I believe after every $50 you spend they give you $5 to put towards any future order with in one year’s time. And no, I am not an affiliate, I just really like ThriftBooks.
Goodwill: I personally have not ventured out to our nearby locations, but another AO mom I know has found very good luck with acquiring books on her list. This is probably a great place to check out for the classic literature on your list.
The best way to find your homeschool books is to keep your list handy whenever you head out to a sale. If you know the books you will need for the next couple of years keep a look out for those as well. It never hurts to stock your home library and collect those harder to find jewels when you see them, then to wait until the week or month before you will need them.
Also, if you do some price checking ahead of time you’ll know the difference between a good price and a fantastic price. Price check using Amazon, eBay, ThriftBooks, and homeschool used curriculum sale groups or sites. You’ll get a good feel for what each book is worth pretty quick.
Tell me in the comments your favorite way to get your homeschool books… are there any that you’ve scored for a super deal?