Save Some Trees–Never Buy Children’s Books

Here’s a tip that works for me: Never buy books!  Why?  Because reading is overrated and television is the wave of the future!  Instead of wasting valuable time and money on books for my young, impressionable daughter, we just plop her in front of the television, which is FREE (we don’t have cable).

I found this adorable picture on Multnomah County Library’s website

All right, calm down.  I do believe in books and reading.  I was an English major, after all.  I wasn’t kidding, though, about never buying books.  I just wanted a snazzier intro to the oldest tightwad trick in the book: Use the library.  Yes, it’s been said before, but despite the existence of this wonderful public institution, many people still spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on books, CDs, and DVDs each year–even though all these things can be acquired for free.  Not only does patronizing the library save money, it saves trees and other resources.

Now, unlike some other unnecessary baby gear, books can be enjoyed for years and even passed down from generation to generation.  We even published an article about throwing a book baby shower for this very reason.  So no one is going to take away your treehugging license if you decide to buy some well-chosen books for your child’s collection.  Although I haven’t ever bought a book for my daughter, she does have a little compilation of favorites given to her by her friends and relatives.

I used to think getting all of Audrey’s books from the library would avoid book burnout, but this has not proven to be the case.  She insists on reading the same books over and over again, whether they are library books or part of her own set.  I am ashamed to admit that I had one book checked out for an entire year.  I finally had to return it when someone placed a hold on it.

Speaking of holds, I’m surprised by how many people do not know about the library’s hold system.  The only way to get good CDs and DVDs, including new releases of television series, albums, and movies, is to place them on hold.  If you rely on browsing the shelves for these items, you’ll have to wait years to listen to a new album or watch a new release (and by then they won’t be new anymore).  This system was crucial for us as new parents when we were stuck inside every night with a sleeping baby.  We watched many movies and television series thanks to our library, and unlike cable, Blockbuster Video, or Netflix, it was entirely free of charge.

The library can also be a great place to socialize with a baby or young kids.  Our library system hosts readings by published authors, art exhibits, writing contests, and book clubs.  Each branch also provides story times for different age groups and holds contests to motivate kids (even babies) to read. 

For hours of free, eco-approved entertainment, march on down to your local library today.  And for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, stop by Rocks in My Dryer.


  1. hear hear! says the librarian 😉 Plus you’ve gotta admit that you could never have as many books as a library. Or could you? I have to admit we’ve made a good start.

    Most libraries enable you to place holds and renew books online too which I think is great.

  2. I too love the library. This is a great tip, thanks for sharing.

  3. Here, here!

    Great post!

    The library also has a much better selection of non fiction books for kids we spend hours in the stacks just pulling science and history books off the shelf to take home.

  4. I don’t know how we’d have made it through those early years (and through homeschooling) without our local library! Mine are teens now and we still check books out regularly. Hooray for the library!

  5. We’re a big fan of the library – I especially love all of the online capabilities that our library offers….not only can you search for and reserve the books you’re interested in and have them sent to the branch closest to you, they will also email you reminders of when the books are due and even better, if no one has put a hold on the books, you can renew them online too…especially handy when it’s just not convenient to run to the library on the book due date! Love it!

  6. I, too, love the library. But it’s also good to have my own copy so that I can look at it anytime I want. But then again, kid’s books can get a little pricey. As luck would have it, my mom bought a bunch of books in great condition for me at a yard sale when I was little, and I still have these packed away in the attic for when I finally have a little one.

    Also, my husband and I buy a lot of books at the local Friends of the Library sale. They have a lot of great books for cheap!

  7. While my son does have quite the book collection he LOVES going to the library. We have actually reduced the number of books that we buy him because of his love of the library.

    P.S. New reader here…love the blog so much I tagged you over at my blog. Go check it out!

  8. This is kind of our approach to books…have some on hand but make good use of the library.

    It is important to still have a selection of good books on hand. Example…I recently purchased (from a library sale no doubt) a hard copy of “Jo’s Boys”. Wasn’t expecting my 8 yr old to read it now but I put it in the bookcase upstairs b/c it is the color red and I have a whole shelf that is almost all red books. Anywhoo the other day my dh found “Jo’s Boys” laying around the house indicating that dd was reading it. I asked her about it and she said she was on the 6th chapter!

    Usually the books we check out from the library are books we are expecting our kids to read in the near future – books in your home library can be a grade or two or three above what your child is currently reading and might encourage the kids to stretch their reading a bit.

  9. I’ve also had great luck with requesting that my library purchase a book that I’m interested in. In our county, you can do this online. You just have to tell the librarians where you heard of the book and why you think it would be worth it for them to buy. Probably 75 percent of the time, they’ve ended up purchasing books I’ve requested, and they let me know when they’ve bought them so I get to be the first one to check them out. 🙂 Give it a try!

  10. We’re big fans of the library too! I have been taking my oldest son since he was a baby, although we have had to buy a couple of books since he wasn’t always the most careful with them! The hold system is great too!

    Our library also has some wonderful children’s programs, especially in the summer. This past week we got to see a juggler who extolled the virtues of the library. He told all the kids about growing up outside of Eugene and to learn about how to juggle, he went to the library. The kids all loved it!

Speak Your Mind