How to Build a Mini Kid’s Library for Cheap

As I’ve mentioned in the past, my husband and I are currently trying to move, and downsize at that. So we’ve been really trying to cut back on buying tangible things that we don’t need. But a fun habit we’ve been getting into is hitting up some of the local thrift stores every so often and grabbing a few kids books that catch our eye to build our home library.

Our main choices are usually Berenstain Bear books and Dr. Suess. We’ve started to amass a pretty healthy collection considering we don’t have any kids yet. But we love the idea of having a mini library all ready to go for when we do have children. I was a huge book worm as a child and I hope to pass on that love to my kids. But books can be so expensive. So that is where thrifting comes in.

Our favorite spots to search for books have been:

Goodwill
Kids books are 59c. This is where we have gotten the most of our books considering we can walk to the local Goodwill.

Savers
The kids books are 99c, but if you buy 4 you get the 5th free. I know it’s a gimmick to get me to spend more, but it works just about every time. I generally find more hardcover books at this store.

The Salvation Army
I honestly cannot remember how much the books cost normally, but I do know that on Saturdays all books are 25c, including adult and hardcover.

Mom & Pop Thrift Stores
These are usually more hit and miss than the larger chains, however when you do find good kids books there I’ve found them to generally be about 25c.

Garage Sales
Like mom & pop thrift stores, these are also hit and miss. Some sales I went to were practically giving away their books and another I stopped at wanted $2 for each.


Tips for finding books in good shape:

Go Early in the Day
While many places will stock throughout the day, the majority of the new items will be put out in between opening times.

Look in All Book Areas
I’m not sure if it’s other customers that do this, or if the individuals shelving the books aren’t really paying attention, but I tend to find kids books throughout the book section. And sometimes in other areas of the stores.

Check the Book Inside and Out
Make sure to check both the cover and flip through the interior pages. Sometimes a book that looks brand new on the outside has crayon and missing pages on the inside. I don’t mind buying a book with a name written in the front, but anything beyond that I put the book back.

Go in Spring or Fall
Building a kid's library for cheap is so fun and books are always wonderful to have. Check out my tips on how I've accomplished this.While any time of the year is really fine for thrifting, I’ve had the best luck in the spring and fall. The spring everyone is doing spring cleaning and donating after their garage sales are over. In the fall, parents are re-evaluating the reading level their kids are at with school starting, and generally donate books then as well to make room for their new school materials.

Those are my tips for my growing mini library. Have you had any luck finding kids books at thrift stores? Any other tips or suggestions?

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39 Comments

  1. We implement the same strategies for finding inexpensive books for our kids’ home library! We love looking at yard sales and thrift stores especially.

    • It is so fun! I’m looking forward to when I have kids big enough to find new books for themselves too 🙂

  2. Great tips! I find kids’ books to be the one item that I have zero guilt collecting. We love having an assortment of books to read to Little Miss, and she seems to have developed a love for books as a result. Even if it is just pulling them all off the shelves in her room for now lol! I’ll have to keep these ideas in mind when we want to refresh her book collection in a few years 🙂

    • I’m glad to hear she loves books – I really hope my kids do as well. When I was growing up it was always the one activity I was allowed to stay up as late as I wanted doing as well, at least during the summers and weekends. I think I’ll pass that on to my kids – unspoken though of course haha

  3. Love this post! My dad instilled a love of reading in me when I was young and I love it to this day! My cousins and I used to love reading Bernstein bears!!

    • Aren’t those the best?! I originally thought I’d try to collect them all – then I found out that there are HUNDREDS!

  4. You found some great ones! I had a huge collection of Dr. Seuss and Berenstain Bears books when I was a kid. Sadly I no longer have them….unless they’re in my mom’s basement. I found when we had kids, loads of books come in as gifts.

    • That’s wonderful that your kids get books as gifts! Our family is tiny so I’m not too worried about having too many later on (though books may be the one “toy” that it’s impossible to have too many of anyway).

  5. i LOVE this idea. My daughter is only 3 months and I’ve already spent a fortune on books for her I never even thought about hitting up local thrift stores. I will absolutely be doing this!!! You should share this post at our link party our readers would love this!
    http://www.diyjustcuz.com/whw-link-party-3/

    • Thanks! I just linked up 🙂 Also, I’ve found some awesome thick books for really little ones that looked brand new. Good luck!

  6. Thrift stores are the best. So much better for the environment to repurpose and reuse items instead of buying everything new. Kudos to you for taking advantage of those great resources!

    • I’ve really found a love for thrifting recently. I like the idea of reusing and saving money all at once!

  7. I absolutely love this! I was a big book worm growing up and when we have kids one day I would love to share my love of reading with them! Starting to build a kids library now is a great idea… looks like I need to take my hubby thrifting! Thanks for linking up with us at Welcome Home Wednesdays! Can’t wait to see you back next week!

    • Thanks for stopping by and good luck if you do decide to go thrifting! It really is a ton of fun, a good way to bond and reminisce, and doesn’t break the bank. Win win win! 🙂

  8. Most of the books in our home library are used. I love going to library book sales – the prices are amazing (which means I can buy more, lol!)

  9. I definitely have built several libraries over the years from library book sales – my own as a child (when books were just 5-10 cents) and then later as a teacher and a mom (now they’re up to 25-50 cents).

  10. We love Love to find books at thrift stores, for both our child(ren) and ourselves. For us, we usually opt for more educational/technical stuff (i.e. older textbooks, etc.) and sometimes something more fun. For our children’s library, we go for things that are both geared at them being young and also as they grow and learn. We like having a variety of books for our children to read and learn from, while also having this way to connect and bond with one another, too! 🙂

    • I’m glad to hear others are doing this as well! I’ve been trying to find a mix of some classics, and then also educational books.

  11. Great ideas for building a library for kids. Please feel free to linkup this post for my readers at :
    http://www.maryanderingcreatively.com/literacy-musing-moms-library-tips

  12. Berenstain Bear books are the best! I loved them as a kid and still have some. We’ve had to re-buy some because they have been read so many times now by my oldest two kids their covers are falling off!

    • That is the best reason to re-buy something though! I cannot wait to read them to my kids some day 🙂

  13. I am a really big book thrifter too! I have a lot of luck at library sales. Our library holds a few every year and has a book cart out year round with books to buy as well. My favorite is the 10 cent sale, which is coming up in a few weeks! I love it too that all of the money is going back into supporting our local libraries, which are an invaluable resource for us.

    • Library sales are a great place as well! I don’t know how I forgot about those; thanks for the reminder. Ours never goes as cheap as 10c though – that sounds amazing!

  14. I just saw a biography yesterday at Sam’s that I’d like to read. I told my hubby, I’m going to the Goodbooks Café to shop for it. I have no intention of paying full price! Good information here for parents building those libraries for their children.

  15. I absolutely agree! I love visiting thrift stores for children’s items in general and we just recently got really interested in taking “field trips” to the library. I have very little ones but we LOVE to read! Stopping by via LiteracyMusingMondays! 🙂

    • I cannot wait until I have little ones to go on field trips to the library! So cute! My mom used to do this with my brother and I and it was such a fun part of childhood! Thanks for stopping by!

  16. Great tips – I especially love the note about going in spring or fall. Will have to remember that one! Thanks for joining the #GoodFriendsFriday linky party, our next party will be live shortly.

  17. Love it! Books are so important to children’s development. Thanks for playing the Pinterest Game!

  18. Our local library sells discards for 10-25 cents. I find a lot of good books that way. A church friend also helps finds good books at yard sales for my little guy (and me).

    This is just what we’re looking for at Literacy Musing Mondays. Keep ’em coming!

  19. Barbara P

    Many public libraries have regular sales of discarded and donated books. Ours sells kids books 3/$1.

    • I love hearing how many people have that resource at their library! Mine seems to be sort of expensive compared ha

  20. vanessa

    Great for many kids books, but lately we’ve been loving that we can get leap reader(TAG) books for less than a buck each. Both my kids have leap reader pens, and those books new run at from 8$ on sale to 14$ new in stock

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