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Used Book Sales: Such a Treasure!

I’ll let you in on my little secret for finding great book bargains: USED BOOK SALES. You’ve probably heard about them or seen flyers at your local library for their annual book sale, but may not have paid any attention. It’s time to start paying attention. Children’s books are SO cheap at used book sales. Most libraries charge by the inch for children’s and young adult books.

Here’s how it works: you find all the books your heart desires and take them to the register. Then the cute little old lady in charge of the cash box (library book sales are almost always run by cute little old ladies) stacks up your books, places a ruler next to their spines, and only charges you $1 per inch.
how to stock up on books for your classroom library without going broke

Let me illustrate: I just visited my local library for their annual Spring Used Book Sale. Here is the stack of  books I purchased for my classroom. As you can see, they measure a little over 2″ tall. That means I only had to pay a little over $2.00 for all of these books!

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking. In fact, I’m reading your mind right at this moment. You’re thinking: That’s all well and good but the books they sell at libraries are ancient and boring. No kid wants to read a bunch of outdated books. Plus, I know how my kids destroy books. I’m not going to pay for a bunch of torn, bent books that are falling apart. I don’t care how cheap they are!

I know, I’m one fussy gal and I don’t want to waste my money on junk either. Yes, I can promise that there will be outdated reading materials as your local Used Book Sale. But mixed in with the old materials, there will also be wonderful, high quality children’s literature and popular titles by some of your favorite authors. These are the books that there in my 2″ stack. As you can see, they are not bent, torn, faded, or damaged. Some of them are practically brand new.
tips for getting high quality children's books at great prices
Need some new used books for your classroom? Here are a few tips to get you started:

Research Used Book Sales in your area.  This one’s easy. Just visit Book Sale Finder online and provide them with your email address, city, state, and zip code. Tell them how many miles you are willing to travel for a Used Book Sale and they will email you every week with a list of local book sales in your area. I love my weekly updates and I never get spammed from site. The emails also draw special attention to book sales featuring a particularly large volume of used books.

Visit your local library. Most libraries submit their book sale information to the Book Sale Finder website, but not all of them. My local library is wonderful and they have two HUGE book sales each year. Their Used Book Sales are never listed on the site. I’m not sure but I think it’s because they consistently have a positive turnout from local residents (it’s a really big community) and do not need to draw in residents from neighboring cities. Anyways, the point is- don’t trust the email to list EVERY sale in your area. Keep your eyes open for them too!

When you find a good sale, keep going back! You will quickly discover that all Used Book Sales are not created equal. Most are pretty good, some are a bust. When you find a really great one, go back to it every year. Odds are, it will always be a good one.

A few additional notes …

Since drafting this post, others have shared their great ideas for obtaining used books as well.

  • Annie over at The Moffatt Girls posted a few additional ideas for building a classroom library with used books.  Hop on over and check it out.
  • Colleen at The Teaching Chameleon recommended checking eBay to check sets of books from retiring teachers.
  • Sandra from Classroom Companion suggested checking at school and church rummage sales for used book deals (children’s books usually go for 25 cents each).

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Maria Gavin

Maria is a former kindergarten and first grade teacher, with 13 years of teaching experience. Her love and passion for all things early childhood is now fulfilled as a mom to two amazing kids. She loves sharing practical and creative tips and ideas that are perfect for young learners – in the classroom or at home!

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19 Responses

  1. I too love used book sales. I also like eBay’s lot sales. Many teachers that are retiring like to put a whole lot of books on there for really cheap. An easy way to get rid of lots of books in one fell swoop.


  2. Great post! Another place to check out is school or church rummage sales. I usually pay about a quarter a piece for books. We do a book swap at my school and the librarian lets the teachers choose some books at the beginning. At the end of the day, any books leftover are free. I got a whole box for free this year. I am your newest follower from TBTS. Stop by and visit some time.
    Classroom Companion

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’m your newest follower!

    Thanks for sharing this great idea! I’m excited to do a little more research on this. I frequent flea markets and yard sales to shop for items for my classroom and every now and then I’ve come across a great box of book for less than $5.00 🙂

    Color Me Kinder

  4. Love those book sales! 🙂 Another good place to find books is the thrift store. You don’t always find something and sometimes it’s just one or two but you can get some really good deals. We have some VERY loved board books and I’ve gotten mint condition replacements for many of them. Although it does makes me sad when I seem to be the first person to ever open it. Does anyone else every feel like the book is probably crying out to be read? – probably the result of reading of the Velveteen Rabbit to often!!

    1. Thrift stores can be great to, but they usually make me feel overwhelmed. But I agree – every time I walk into one, I always make a beeline for the book section!

  5. There is this massive 99cent used bookstore where I live and they have TONS of children’s books. You can order from their website for like 60cents/book and there is no charge for shipping. And children’s books are just 25cents for teachers in-store

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Hi, I'm Maria.

I’m a former kindergarten teacher turned work-from-home mom. I still love sharing ideas and resources to make teaching easier, so you can focus on what really matters in the classroom. When I’m not working on the blog, you’ll find me chasing kids around the house with a cold cup of coffee in my hand (some things never change even once you’re out of the classroom!)


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