I’m a firm believer that every family budget should have an allotment, no matter how small, for buying books. As wonderful as public libraries are, there’s still no substitute for placing a new book in a child’s hands and saying, “Here you go; this is yours.” But still: libraries are free! Books cost money! Why should you spend on something that’s so easily available? If, unlike me, you need permission or a good reason to head to the local bookshop or over to Amazon, then here you go:
Why You Should Buy Books: Ten Definitive and Convincing Reasons
- Buying new books supports authors. Authors then write more excellent literature, rather than waiting tables. Everyone wins!
- A home full of books is good for children. It’s good for them academically, but even more importantly, it’s good for their character. They learn to see themselves as part of a great conversation among a whole world of people who own, read, and live with books.
- You can read on your own timetable and not worry about library fines. Maybe you’re better at this than I am, but I could probably buy a shelf or two of books with what I’ve paid to the Hennepin County library system. They should name a wing after me.
- When you own books, you can read them again and again (and again). (This is an argument for only owning the best books, and making sure the rest have a due date.)
- When you own a book, you can share it with your friends and family. They now have no excuse for not reading that fabulous book you’ve been raving about!
- You can read beyond what your library has to offer. This is especially important with theological kids lit, where many libraries have limited offerings or only circulate the most popular titles.
- You can contribute old books to charity once you’re sure you don’t want them anymore. Some good candidates: a local women’s shelter, a crisis pregnancy center, a children’s hospital, or Project Night Night.
- Or, alternately, if you need to keep funding that book-buying habit, you can sell your books to a local used bookshop or an online seller like Powell’s Books. These stores will usually give you a better deal if you’ll accept store credit, so it’s like trading in something old for something new. (This is also a discreet way of disposing of, um, less-than-well-chosen gifts.)
- When a child lives side-by-side with the same books (her own, and her parents’) day after day, they become in some intangible way her companions. This gives you some measure of control over her friends after all!
- Lastly, when books are the focal point of your living space, rather than a television or computer, it says something important to children about the culture of your home — this is a place where words and stories matter, where it is worth giving our time and attention to the best that human creativity has to offer, and where we are interested in discovering what is real rather than being diverted by what is entertaining.
Great list. I completely agree. Even in these days of the economic downturn, I believe it’s important to surround my kids with as many books as possible. We do make many trips to the thrift stores, where we have often found near new or new books for less than a dollar. That said, I do also believe in supporting the arts, including literature, so we also buy new books at bookstores when we can.
Thanks for mentioning thrift stores, Minnie – you’re so right, they’re a fantastic resource. Used bookstores and places like Half Price Books are wonderful too, and it’s worth getting on their mailing lists to find out about special events like tent sales and additional markdowns.
Good reminders! We’re on a very tight budget right now but children’s books come from grandparents every once in a while and from us on birthdays and holidays. good reminder to give suggestions to the grandparents so we don’t end up with whatever’s on display at the grocery store or wherever they shop!
Hennepin County – do you live in Minneapolis? I did when I was a preschooler and my children are still reading books stamped, “Removed from Circulation at the Hennepin County Library!”
Yes, I definitely keep a running list with my parents and in-laws — who are super gracious, and willing to buy the books I suggest. Another good trick (borrowed from Haley) is to keep an Amazon wishlist that willing and generous family members can simply cruise over to and pick from. Every time I read a great review or get a book suggestion, I just add it to my wishlist – no commitment, but it’s a good reminder that I think I want to read it.
And yes, we’re in Minneapolis. Hooray for the Hennepin County library system, and its lovely website on which I can request books and have them delivered to my local branch for pickup. It’s like free Netflix for books!