One of the things I love to do in my downtime is read. I can get lost in a world of fiction (preferably historical Christian fiction) and have been known to go through an entire novel in 2 just days (I’m pretty sure I have burned the midnight oil and made it through a book in just one day).
There is just one problem though, well two really. The first is I never re-read any book other than my Bible. The other problem is I have run out of bookshelves.
A book swap event has proven to be a win-win for all involved. Let me tell you how it works.
Homeschoolers and Books
Homeschoolers love books. Moms enjoy good quality fiction books and love to stock their shelves with living books for history, science, and character-building novels. The truth is we all probably have gobs of books and I know I am not the only one to run out of bookshelves.
I prefer real, physical books over digital. My eyes are in front of the computer screen too much already to spend hours at a time reading on my tablet. Plus, I love the smell of books (most of the time, some old used books smell nasty).
The library isn’t as accessible for us as we would like it to be, so I try and purchase used books or borrow from friends, but I often find myself shopping on Amazon because, well it’s Amazon. Since we have a warehouse in our city, we get next day shipping. I often find really good deals on authors I know and love.
How a Book Swap Event Works
We have a local homeschooling group full of moms who love to read. In the past we have had informal get-togethers where we join together in fellowship and everyone bring some books that they LOVED and they get placed out for browsing. We grab a cup of coffee or tea, chat, tell our friends what we loved about a particular book, and when we leave we have some new reads…and the cost was zero dollars!
I have also had individual friends with the same love of reading (and taste in books) and we call each other up every now and then and swap bags of books. We actually write our names in our books and return them. At our book swap parties, the books are not returned (but you could always write your names in those books too and plan for returns!).
Community Book Swap & Coffee Shop
If you live in a community that has a coffee shop (I would think even tiny towns might have a Starbucks nowadays), you can plan a fun event in which members of your community bring books and everyone “shops” the tables to find new treasures. This could be advertised at local schools and public libraries, or even family-owned businesses. Something this large might require a little planning ahead, like tables and category cards so the books can be sorted by the owners.
You can create flyers requesting neighbors to bring their good-condition, well-loved books to trade with others. This might even be a great neighborhood event if you have an amenities center you can use or live where you can plan a block party.
Curriculum Swap Parties
In addition to hosting a book swap party for a mom’s nights out (MNO as we call them), we have had curriculum swap days. We usually meet at the park throughout the homeschool year and instead of adding one more thing to our schedule, we simply bring curriculum and children’s books to the park. We lay out our books on picnic tables and then take home whatever we please.
If you love to read, but like me do not normally re-read your novels, trading them with friends is a great way to save money. One of the wonderful things about swapping books with like-minded friends is that typically you already know it’s going to be good – because you don’t swap stuff you cannot recommend.
We have even done gift exchanges at Christmas time by wrapping a well-loved, but in-good-condition book and exchanging them as gifts.
Try it – you may just find a little community of readers like you who love good books!
Ideas for finding less-expensive books to purchase:
Local Library Sale – Many local libraries put on book sales each year and offer used library books for really cheap prices. The last one I went to had some neat Hebrew charts in the “free box” that I was able to grab for our homeschool. I also picked up a couple great cookbooks for about $.50 each.
Used Bookstores – We have a local used bookstore that is so huge you really do get lost in it. It’s a maze of wonderful literature and you can find good reads for half the price or less than you would in a bookstore like Barnes and Noble, plus you can usually bring your books in and get trade-in credit!
Buy Used Books Online – I like to shop Thrift Books for good quality used books. You can save 15% on your first purchase and even earn free books! Amazon also offers used books for sale from third-party sellers. Paperback Swap is another source I have used in the past.
Used Homeschool Resources:
Homeschool Used Book is a new site that has homeschool material and children’s books for sale. They sell popular products from publishers like BJU, Sonlight, Math-U-See, and more.
Homeschool Classifieds is a large database of books listed for sale from other homeschoolers. You can buy and sell used homeschool curriculum.
If you want to start small, find just one book swap partner.
You only have to ask a friend a few questions to determine what types of literature or novels she/he likes to read. You are looking for someone who has the same worldview that you value so you know their recommendations are not going to go against what you believe. Plan a coffee date and bring some books to swap. It’s really that easy!
Logging your book borrowing
It’s a good idea to keep track of what books you loan out (especially homeschool curriculum) if your desire is to have them returned for future use. I have made this mistake so many times due to the fact my children are eight years apart in age. Middle school seems so far away when you have a kindergartener, but one day you might want that favorite curriculum back!
A simple book borrowing log will help you to keep track of what you loan out and to whom, so you know where your books are. Several times I had to post in our local homeschooling Facebook group asking who has my stuff. If you are a borrower you also want to keep track of whose books you are using to.
You can download our FREE Book Borrowing Log below.
Label your books if you want them back.
There are loads of free book labels you can print and stick to your books in the inside cover. Just open your Pinterest account and search “this book belongs to labels” and you will have a plethora of selections. If you are like me you might get some junk mail that includes “free” address labels. You might not be sticking stuff in your mailbox much anymore, but you can use those labels to place inside your books!
Carrie Fernandez is the founder of Homeschool Giveaways and owner of Daily Skill Building. She has been homeschooling for over 18 years, has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.