Homeschool Tip: Collect Books from Unexpected Places

Over the years, I have learned you can find children’s books in unexpected places to build your homeschool book collection. Many of these places offer free books, too! After seven years of homeschooling, I no longer spend a lot of money on books. I think I spend less than $20 a year on books.

When I first started homeschooling Elijah and Michala (2013), I would buy ALL of the books! I couldn’t help myself. I was so excited about our new adventure that I wanted to get as many enriching resources I could get my hands on. I had even signed up for a homeschool website and made a BIG wishlist of school products that I wanted to get for them. I can only imagine how much money I unnecessarily spent that first year of homeschooling.

It took me a couple more years to finally realize I didn’t actually need to buy books to homeschool. We could find what we needed from many different types of sources such as our local library and used bookstores. 

Homeschool Tip: Find Children's Books in Unexpected Places


Local Library — especially if you live in a big city or metropolitan, you may have greater access to library books and resources. Living in metro Detroit, we are able to use our library membership card at several different libraries including the Detroit Public Library.

Because of this, I have not bought any books for Zhen (grade 1) and Zechariah (grade PreK). I have only purchased a few used books for Michala (grade 12), but she gets the majority of her books and resources from the library, too.

Little Libraries — Have you seen a Little Free Library in your neighborhood or at a park? They are these cute little houses that people fill with books they no longer need. Oftentimes we find children’s books in a Little Library. Last week, Zhen found a Biscuit book at a Little Library in Detroit. It just so happens that she reads Biscuit books for school so it was perfect!

All of the books in a Little Library are always free to the public. Just make sure to pay it forward and donate some of your old books to a Little Library, too! 

Little Free Library. Find children's books in unexpected places

Used Bookstores — Before buying brand new books, check to see if your local used bookstore may have it in stock. You can find books at a much cheaper price at used bookstores. 

BONUS TIP: Find a small-owned used bookstore to support a local business in your area!

Thrift Stores — You can find children’s books, old textbooks, workbooks, and young adult novels at thrift stores. A few years ago, we found an old elementary school math book at a Goodwill store. It was from the 90s, but the general math skills were still relevant. You can use old textbooks for extra practice and even make copies of the pages to make worksheets for your kids.

Little Free Library Detroit
Detroit Little Free Library

Family and Friends — If you have a sister, brother, or a friend who has children older than yours, then you could probably get books from one of them. Sometimes my friends ask me if I’d like books their children are no longer reading. I always say yes because we love books

Yard Sales — Garage sales and yard sales are another great way to score inexpensive books. Sometimes you might even find books for free if the seller is just trying to get rid of their stuff. I bought a collection of Eric Carle books at a yard sale for under $3. And one time we went to a school yard sale and found books for 50 cents to a $1!



All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.

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