Friday, 27 February 2015

Mommy Money Matters - Buying Books

We talk a lot about books here at WIYDB, so we've come up with some tips and suggestions for building your home library. Here's when to buy brand new, what to borrow, and where to look for a bargain.

Ages 0-6

Reading is important from birth. You'll notice very early on how your child reacts positively to the sound of words as you read to him from a variety of books. Books can be incorporated into every day play, and reading itself is a sort of game at this stage. Remember to vary your volume and facial expressions while you read as storytelling helps to teach empathy, as well as ideas and vocabulary. You may have read about some amazing books for this developmental stage (maybe even from this blog) but it's important to give your child a little autonomy in choosing which books appeal to them, too. Every book is an experience worth trying out.

There is nothing quite as special as a brand new book and right now some of the most innovative and creative children's books are being published. If you come across a favourite author, or find that your child keeps picking the same book from the library, go ahead and buy it brand new. I would suggest building a home library full of John Klassen, Oliver Jeffers, and Bob Shea. It will be difficult to find these books used, and they really are worth the money.

Use the library as a testing ground for different types of books. Very young babies like high contrast (think black on white picture books) and looking at other babies. The library will carry a selection of these types of books for this stage that doesn't last too long. Also use the library as a place for your child to explore their own tastes. As soon as they are able, let them select books from the shelf. It doesn't cost you any thing, so check out the whole children's department during the first couple of years. Why not?

Those classic books that you remember from childhood (like Good Night Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Dr. Seuss, etc.) and always dreamed of reading to your child? They're worth owning as they have a special meaning to you, and will be read often, but there's no need to buy them brand new. They've been around so long that every used book store will have a ton of stock and some are still in perfect condition.

Tips: Board books are meant to withstand a lot of damage. They can be thrown around a room, stomped on, pulled at, and most importantly put into little mouths without getting ruined. Buy a pack of pacifier/toy wipes to give a nice cleaning to any board books you buy used or borrow from the library before you hand them off to your baby to explore. (We like these ones, but any will do!)

Ages 7-13

By the time a child is six or seven, they can most likely read on their own, and they're starting to get excited about "chapter books," a huge reading milestone! At this age, they have more confidence in reading alone, but they're not totally adventurous. Enter the series. Series are so popular at this age because children can read many new books within a set comfort zone. Once the child learns the characters, style, tone, and general vocabulary of a series, they are excited to read every published tome because it is a perfect balance of new and established. Nourish their voracious reading appetites at this stage as it is a building block for lifelong reading.

You may find that you have to buy the hottest new books by the most popular authors (such as Rick Riordan or Kenneth Oppel) at the book store or through If your child is an avid reader stuck on a certain author, the library wait list will take too long and the used book stores won't carry it for months. This includes series that must be read in order because the plot of each book builds on the story of the last (like Harry Potter). Luckily, children's books are generally cheaper brand new than adult novels.

If your child is in to a stand alone series of books - where each book shares a theme, style, and/or topic of interest but stands independent in every other way (think Goosebumps or American Girl) or an episodic series - where each book focuses on a singular adventure but the characters and/or setting carries through the whole set (think Geronimo Stilton or Rainbow Magic) then you're a-ok to borrow them. The library won't guarantee availability so it's easier to use it for books that can be read in any order. Borrowing is also ideal for non-series titles for this reason.


If your child likes any type of series books, or really likes a certain author (like Roald Dahl) you can seek out a bargain in the form of a full or partial set for one inclusive price. Each individual book can run you anywhere from $7-$20 retail so finding a lot on an online auction or a set at a garage sale or charity book sale is a great way to get many books for one low price.

Tip: Although you may prefer your child move away from picture books, graphic novels are legitimate reading material. If your child is interested in manga, or another graphic novel series, you should encourage it just the same as a more traditional text based series. They will feel more comfortable expanding their interests later if they haven't felt pressured to read prescribed books at this stage.

Tip: Once children demonstrate reading independence, most parents stop reading aloud to them. Don't stop!! There are many benefits to reading aloud to your older child. You're modelling the use of cadence and emphasis. You can choose books beyond what they could read on their own, introducing them to larger vocabulary. Not to mention, you're bonding with them and helping them to love reading.


  1. Friends of the Guelph Public Library book sale is always a great place to get a ton of books for really cheap! They have great books there too. We have gotten Brown Bear Brown Bear, and Harold and the Purple Crayon just to name a couple.

    1. I've heard really amazing things about the Friends of the Guelph Public Library annual book sale. I've always wanted to check it out. Seana has been known to go a little crazy at that particular sale. Just short of re-mortgaging her house, I think. :)