So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Psalm 90.12

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

How Much Does Homeschooling Cost? Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my series on the cost of homeschooling!  Today, I would like to discuss the costs associated with books used in homeschooling.  I have previously written a post on choosing books (which can be found here), but now I am going to deal with how to obtain books without spending a fortune and running out of room to store them.  By books, I mean "living books" (Charlotte Mason's term) - good quality literature, both fiction and non-fiction, written by someone who has a real interest in the subject.

Some seem to have the idea that you must buy every book you need, brand-new from a homeschool supplier or bookshop.  This is simply not true.  I, for one, would long since have run out of space and money if I followed this practice.  Here are a few ideas for procuring books in a budget friendly fashion.

1.  Use your local library - I know not everybody has access to a good local library but that really is my top recommendation for keeping book costs down.  I can empathise with the situation of not having that service from our time of living and homeschooling in Quebec (where there was no provincially funded English library).  Our provincial library system here on PEI is set up so every local library on the Island is connected through a central database.  I can access this database on their website and sign into my account using my library card, search for, and order books.  If my local branch does not have a book, it can be brought in from another library.  If you have a library near you, check it out and find what services they offer.  Taking a "field trip" to the library is a great way to look over their selection of books and chat with the staff.

2. Buy books secondhand - As I suggested for curricula, look for good used books at yard/garage sales, thrift/charity shops, homeschool conferences or groups, library discard sales, etc.  Our local thrift shop is a great place to pick up paperbacks very inexpensively.  It's a good idea to make a list of books you are looking for and keep it in your purse.  

3. Look for free books - This sounds a little weird but it may not be as hard as you think to get books for free.  Your local homeschool support group members may have books they no longer need and just want to get rid of.  Swaps and bartering are also a good way to get books without actual money changing hands.  Say I have an extra copy of Anne of Green Gables I don't need.  I could work out a trade with somebody who wants Anne and has a book I want.  You could even barter a product (like a jar of homemade strawberry jam) or a service (such as a photography session) for books that you need.

4.  Kindle app for free classics and living books - Did you know you don't need a Kindle (an eBook reader) to read Kindle books?   You can download a free Kindle app here for 10 different devices including smartphones, computers, and tablets.  I have the app for PC on our laptop.  It probably isn't as convenient as the actual Kindle, but the app is free!  I can imagine the app for smartphones would be good for being able to take your reading everywhere without buying an additional device.  You can find thousands of free books on Amazon, many of them classics.  Two other sites where you can download free books for your Kindle app are Project Gutenberg and  Reading books this way is not ideal in my opinion, but there are advantages - it is free, you can have many books without worrying about storing them, it is quite portable, and you can often find older books that are not in print.  Right now, I have over 900 books on my Kindle app and I haven't spent a penny yet.  There are also websites dedicated to helping people find free Kindle books.  One that is specifically dedicated to homeschooling families is Free Homeschool Deals (she not only lists free books for Kindle but passes along many other freebies and deals).

So there you have a few ideas about keeping book costs down.  I hope this post has been useful to you and thank you for reading!

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop today.

Also linking to Look What We Did!

Caveat:  I would always recommend previewing reading materials before giving them to your children to make sure they are things you want them to be reading and learning about.  A great book review site is Squeaky Clean Reviews.

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