Books in Hand

Originally published at the St. Michael Patch.

I love books.  I love how they look, feel, smell.  Of course I love what’s in the pages, the stories, the adventures, the escape.  As a kid, I read everything I could get my hands on.  As an adult, I read several books a month.  My children have dozens, probably hundreds of books between the two.  Since they were babies, I’ve stressed the importance of books and reading.  They are extremely lucky to have so many books.

Not every kid is so lucky.

The truth is, books are expensive.  Books don’t always factor into a family budget.  I was the youngest of seven kids and buying new books wasn’t usually an option – even in the days when you could buy a brand new paperback at B. Dalton for ninety-nine cents.

Luckily, there are a lot of places to find good deals on new and used books.

One of my favorite times in school was when we received our Scholastic Book Order flyers.  I love looking through them now with my kids - there's definitely a much larger selection and they both get so excited to make their choices.  I was disappointed to learn that my fourth grader’s teacher will not be participating in the program this year.  It’s unfortunate because each month Scholastic offers great deals on select titles – you can get a paperback for as low as $1.

Classic Scholastic purchases from my childhood

The Scholastic Book Fairs are coming up at STMA schools.  You can get a few of those same great deals, as well as paperback versions of new books that are only available in hardcover at bookstores.  Every year the new Wimpy Kid books are available exclusively in paperback through Scholastic.  Order forms were emailed to STMA elementary parents this week.

Area libraries hold used book sales several times each year.  The St. Michael Friends of the Library will hold their sale this Saturday – October 27th – from 8 am to 2 pm at the St. Michael City Center.  Not only can you purchase library discards for a steal, but community members donate books they no longer need or want as well.   You can find some amazing treasures at library book sales.  Paperbacks start at fifty cents each, hardcovers at $1, and specialty items priced as marked.  And it’s for a great cause – raising funds for the library.

A few favorite library discards

Need more ideas for finding used books?  Consignment shops like Second Time’s a Charm in St. Michael, Goodwill, and other thrift stores have a terrific selection of hardcover and paperback books.  There are some great used book stores nearby, like Reading Frenzy in Zimmerman or Half-Price Books at various Twin Cities locations.  You might be surprised by the books you’ll find at garage sales and antique stores.

And don’t forget – library cards are free.  The online library catalog is easy to use, so even if your location doesn’t have a book you’re looking for, it can be transferred from another branch.

Once you’ve got the books in hand, you’ll open up a whole new world for your kids.


  1. Growing up our bookshelves were overflowing with books purchased second hand from our city's library. We used to come home with boxes of all kinds of books for so, so cheap. I think this is probably one of my favourite memories as a kid--always being surrounded by books. And to this day, I love the smell of library books. :)

  2. Every spring our local symphony has a huge book sale. It's so cheap we usually come away with four or five boxes full. That's a big reason why every room in our house is overflowing with books. Shopping for new books is fun but there's nothing like discovering an old gem while rooting through scads of used books!

  3. One of my favorite memories is of my grandmother taking my sister and I to the library every week. I loved coming home with a stack of new books to read. I hope every child gets to know that feeling. E-books will never compare the smell of a library book, nor can they compete with the crackle of the plastic on the cover. :-)


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