Baby Expenses

9 Frugal Ways To Get Children’s Books


Book reading is a very important activity in my family as it is with many others. My wife owns several hundred thousand books, I like to read a lot and our son is a big advocate of reading as well. I should probably clarify that since my son can’t actually read yet, he’s a big advocate of having other people read books to him. Over and over and over again!

One thing that really bothers me about children’s book is the extreme cost. You can buy a adult novel for around $15 for a 350 page book which works out to four cents per page. Obviously there will be a wide range for that calculation but my point is that it’s fairly low. Kid’s books on the other hand seem to be able to charge up to one dollar per page which I think is excessive. Now I will concede that they often have much thicker pages and nice illustrations but it’s still a lot of money. We’ve been able to obtain children’s books for very little cost so I thought I would share some of those ways here.

  1. Borrow from the library – most libraries have kids sections so if your child is getting tired of the current batch of books then this is a good option. Our library is pretty understanding if there is a bit of wear and tear on the returned books.
  2. Buy from the library – our library has a small section where older/hacked up books are for sale for a small price. The book in the photo was purchased for 25 cents and it’s our son’s favourite book.
  3. Yard sales – this is a great, fun way to pick up new (to your child) books for a small price. 25 cents, 50 cents are reasonable prices for a used book.
  4. Book exchange – if you know other people with similar age kids then offer to exchange some books with them. Both kids will benefit. Just make sure you don’t give away their favourites!
  5. Hand-me-downs – neighbours, friends and relatives with kids a bit older than yours, can be a great source of used books.
  6. Gifts – some people (who don’t read this blog) just have to buy new gifts for your child or newborn. Even though it’s a waste of money, hinting that books are a better gift than yet another pink, frilly dress might at least get you something useful.
  7. Used book store – this is probably the most expensive option on the list but it’s worth a try.
  8. Online classifieds such as Craig’s list, Ebay are good for buying used children’s books. You might end up with a batch rather than individual books.
  9. Freecycle – this online exchange is hit or miss but the important thing is that it’s free so if you can grab some books then it will be worthwhile.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other frugal ways to get kid’s books.

21 replies on “9 Frugal Ways To Get Children’s Books”

Hundreds of thousands of books? Does your wife own a book store?

I definitely agree with the idea of buying used books, personally I prefer buying in a batch on eBay. You pay less per book, you don’t get dinged on shipped a dozen times and it’s easier then buying them individually or shlepping out of the house to find a deal.

We picked up 21 Dr. Suess books in gently used condition for roughly $1.50/each after shipping.

When searching use the keyword “+LOT” in the title, this is how most sellers describe them.

I get most of ours at yard sales – I got about 30 this past weekend for 10 cents. Thrift stores often have them for 10 cents/soft cover and 25 cents/hard cover

Next up, I want to see how you store all of those books. I picture an astounding home library with shelves from floor to ceiling all the way around 🙂

I’ll add in visiting your local Winners clothing store. My father is a Dr. Seuss/Curious George collector for the day when he has grandchildren (still a few years away). He gets most of them from garage sales or church yard sales, but every so often he comes back from a trip to Winners with one or two new books in hand for fairly good prices

having worked in the publishing industry, I just thought I would offer an explanation in defense of the cost of children’s books… 🙂

Children’s books require full-colour printing (which is more expensive and requires a heavier paper stock) because otherwise they don’t sell, as most younger kids aren’t interested in the books without pictures. Yet at the same time, publishers can’t mark up the prices too high because parents won’t spend the money on the them. Once you factor in author royalties, production costs, employee salaries, shipping, etc., etc., it leaves a very small profit margin. Also, publishing is a consignment business, which means when stores have extra stock of books that didn’t sell, they can return it to the publisher…

I am all for saving money though, and I do realise how expensive parenthood is.
For the record, I am not against finding frugal ways to get books (barring anything illegal, of course), but I just wanted to provide a little background… 🙂

and not to get too PSA (public service announcement) on you, but get your kids interested in books at a young age. It’s important…

Great blog, by the way! I’ve been a longtime reader…

Great suggestions.

I really like Seuss and Curious George was my favourite as a child.

Regarding the 100k+ books – I may have exaggerated slightly – it’s probably in the 2 to 3k range and takes up a good part of our office.

I looked at Freecycle once, and some woman wanted to give away a DVD player (great, good for her). She said not to just send a message “when can I pick it up?”, she expected everyone who wanted it to send her a write up of why THEY deserved her DVD, then she’d pick the most worthy.

Forget that. I’m all for getting stuff from people who aren’t using it to people who will, but if people expect to have their asses kissed while pass along their junk, I’m not going to have anything to do with the place…

(Looks around at the bookshelves, smiles and shrugs)

Mike, are you sure you aren’t my hubby in disguise? LOL

I also have a few thousand books. Many years ago I bought Billy bookshelves at IKEA and I used to have 17 linear feet of floor to ceiling bookshelves with an average of 5 shelves per bookshelf (in our previous house, before the “sprinkler incident” i.e. flood). Multiplies 17 by 5, whistles softly. Okay, that’s a lot of books (over 8 stories high, if they were stacked).

I recently gave my DC (age 5) 5 Tiny Whitman books from my childhood and she loves them! As anyone who has read my comment on Trent’s blog today may have noticed, I believe strongly in reading and in making good books (including Great Books) available in the home, especially where there are children.

While the commenter I was responding to may feel that “bad books” (ones that aren’t great literature) are worthless, I don’t care that “The Princess Who Never Laughed” or “The Yellow Cat” aren’t great literature.

They engage my child as she is starting to read on her own and they promote literacy. I already read her chapter books like Little House on the Prairie and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but she obviously isn’t ready to handle those on her own.

Some of the books I will eventually hand down to my daughter (and my granddaughters) are ones that my aunt and mother passed down to me! Now that’s frugal.

just wanted to add to the buying from the library… in a few of the major cities i’ve lived the library (typically the large central branch) will have a huge book sale a couple of times a year. the selection is totally awesome and it’s really cheap.

I’ve picked up books for my preschooler through my nephew’s school book orders. Scholastic always has a $0.99 book in every flyer and they don’t charge shipping. I’ve got 4 children’s hardcover picture books ordered that were about 1/4 cost total of what they’d cost through a bookstore.

My mum is a teacher and we always got lots of free books via the book salespeople who went to the schools and gave out samples. Unfortunately many of them were bible-based (this being the 1980s) although none of us ended up brainwashed or bearded. This started me off as a big reader although I’m someone who doesn’t like accumulating books, going overboard on which is very “acceptable” excess in certain circles. We also regularly got exotic Canadian books like “Maurice’s Disappearing Bag” in the post from my aunt in Ontario.

Thanks for the link! We have always relied heavily, heavily on gifts for books. I tell all of our relatives (both English-speaking and Russian-speaking) to buy books for presents; not toys, not clothes, but books. It’s actually worked out well. People seem to have an obsessive need to buy gifts for babies who can’t appreciate them, but as long as they want to, we’ll let them. Books are hit and miss – my son could have cared less about books I thought were amazing artwork and nice messages in favor of “I am a Truck” but hey – it’s reading. I’m still amazed that my son likes to “pretend” to read already. Reading is a skill that serves so well throughout life that any way you can encourage it – library, yard sales, whatever – is worth it.


centsprout – good suggestion to look for the big library sale.

Meg – I’ll keep that in mind for when the kids start school.

Guinness – I like the fact that you read books and don’t accumulate them.

Steve (BB) – Great suggestion! I’m going to start telling people to buy books instead of cute outfits. I agree that reading is one of the most important skills to have.


I am asking for books for my shower instead of clothes too – looked around and realized that I was missing books not a million cutsey outfits. Also have found some in Thrift stores, and have bought 1 or 2 from Chapters with a free gift card earned with airmiles (but those were specific books I wanted).

One thing that leads us to get a lot of books for next to nothing is when the library has their annual “purge” sale. Sometimes the books are in bad shape, but we avoid those ones. It gives us some insurance that we can add to our little girl’s library at a low cost. Good stuff.

Wooly – books are a great idea for a shower.

Jerry – I don’t mind books in bad shape because all our books are in bad shape after a couple of “readings” from our son. 🙂

Good list! We’ve also discovered Goodwill as a decent place to find cheap children’s books. My wife picked up a Golden book and a read-along Pooh book, both in good condition, for $0.30.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *