11.20.2010

Buying Children's Books

I have a passion for children's literature.  It started in my own childhood with a love of reading, that has continued to grow and develop as I've had my own children and held them in my lap while reading wonderful stories together.  

Although I believe that the best place to get books is from the library, I also love buying books-- both to give as gifts, and to enrich our home and family life.  I thought I would share some of my thoughts on buying and building a library of books in the home.

I have a definite preference for books that I buy:  Atlas's, encyclopedias, fairy tales, fables, nursery rhymes, folk tales, music books, and things to make and do together, are all books that I will snatch up at a good price.  

I've noticed with my children that the stories that engage them the most are usually fairy tales or folk tales or fables.  They usually invite the most interesting discussions while reading them, and I can see the little wheels turning in their heads while they are thinking about the stories.  I will see them re-enact the stories through play and building and artwork, and re-tell them in their own way to each other.  I know that they are thinking about them, and learning from them.

They are also usually rich in language and learning opportunities.  I love when the story mentions a specific location, or originated from a country that I can point out on the world map in their room, or on the globe downstairs in the living room.  I love when the stories introduce words in a different language, or customs of another culture, and we get to talk about people in other times and places in the world.  

I also love that in one book, you can get a huge compilation of stories, and that they are stories that can be just as relevant to them as adults as they are to them right now (I know this because two of the books below are from my college courses, and I spent a good deal of time in college reading, discussing, and writing about folk and fairy tales).

The best place that I have found to buy books is at our library.  Each of the urban libraries in the Las Vegas Library District has a used book store or section, where books can be bought for as little as ten cents each.  Almost all of the books that I have bought I have found there.

Here are a few of my favorite books that I've found for our home:
Believe it or not, I spent less than $20 for all of these books combined (except for the Creepy Cute Crochet: Zombies, Ninjas, Robots, and More! in the front).  That one I paid full sucker price for in a moment of weakness, and spent half as much on that book as I did on the rest of the table.  But seriously?  How cute are they?

Anyway...  Here's a closer look at a few of my favorites:


This Oragami book is awesome!  I can't tell you how many times I've pulled it off the shelf and have practiced making things with paper when there's a quiet moment at home together.  The boys love when I make them "toys" and love playing with my little creations.  I find something so gratifying about turning a piece of paper into something beautiful.  It's also proved an extremely useful skill during moments when I need to keep the kids occupied without disturbing others (church, long car rides, etc...).



This favorite African Folktales is an absolute favorite I got (for 25 cents!).  The illustrations are bold and beautiful, and the kids have a few from the collection that they request continually.  This is one that I'm happy to introduce new words in another language to them, and to point out on a map some of the places these stories originated.  



The illustrations in this collection of Aesop's fables are just gorgeous.  Since fables are short they keep the attention span of even my two year old, and the illustrations are what really capture their attention and keep it.  It just doesn't get better than some of these fables from Aesop in my opinion.



This book of proverbs is a really fun one.  I love reading these to my boys once in a while.  I usually read the English first, and then repeat it in Spanish.  It takes only a few moments to read one, but leads to some really fun and interesting conversations.  Even I love contemplating and discussing some of these proverbs.


This book is so perfect for my boys.  I love the bright illustrations, and love letting them look through and then ask me questions about the natural world around them.  I find them pulling this down often and reading it on their own, too.

I also love visiting used book stores both here in town, and in cities that I'm visiting when I have the time.  I've found that the prices are usually comparable to what you would pay for used books on online sites, when you include the shipping, and I have found books there that I would never have even thought to buy, had I not seen them there.  One way that I have found to negate the cost of used book stores, is to bring in books that you no longer want, to gain store credit, and make your purchase even cheaper.  Most used book stores that I know of will do this.

I've learned a lot taking my children with me on these excursions, both to the library, and also to the used book stores.  I usually quickly browse through all the books, pull any from the shelf that look interesting, and then go through my stack one by one, deciding if they are ones that I want to purchase.  I will many times put my kids on my lap and read them some of the books to see what they think of them.  I also love seeing which books they naturally gravitate to.  

If there is a specific book I want to purchase, but can't find it in the used stores around me, I usually go to Amazon.com or to Half.com, and browse through the used copies for sale.  I've gotten some great deals this way, and books that are in really great condition.  There are also some great book swapping sites like PaperBackSwap.com, BookMooch.com, Bookcrossing.com, and Bookins.com, where you can send books that you no longer want, in exchange for books that you want, and only pay for shipping. 

I love that our home has beautiful books in it that my children love to read.  It makes me happy when I see them picking them up and sitting and reading.


Well my friends, I fear that I've gone on way too long.  That's what happens when I start talking about books.
I hope your weekend is wonderful.

Love,
Jane