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Building a Children’s Library

by Mocha Catherine Hollingsworth Hamm - Northern PG, Maryland Chapter

Today’s technology makes it a cinch to build your child’s library as he/she moves from picture books to chapter books. Buying children’s books is not only more convenient using a mobile device but less costly thanks to Amazon, tablets and e-readers. Even local libraries have gone digital, adding mobile apps that allow you to download books right to your phone or other device. But for parents concerned about their children being frequently connected to a device, there are still plenty of low-tech ways to build a child’s library without breaking the bank. Whether you are creating a children’s library on a tablet or at home, much of what you need to get started is probably right at your fingertips or at least nearby. 

Free Books
Always check for free book downloads in the app store section of your child’s tablet. Help your child make a book wish list in the app store to keep handy for birthdays and Christmas. Some cities such as Baltimore and the San Francisco Bay Area actually have what’s known as free book exchanges where all the books are free. Customers receive free books in exchange for book donations. 

Book Swap/Book Donations
If someone lends you a book via an e-reader, return the favor. Get a book swap going with family members or friends who have kids. When your children outgrow their bookshelf collection, pass it on to a Mocha Mom, a library bookstore or local school. 

Library Bookstores
The next time you visit your local library, check to see if the library sells gently used donated books, usually at yard sale prices. For parents or homeschoolers, these donation sites can be a treasure trove of textbooks, reference material, biographies, picture books and paperbacks.
Check the website for free book offers from Scholastic sponsors. Subscribers to Scholastic’s Parent & Child Magazine may request to join its Readers Panel to qualify for free books. To inquire about the Readers Panel, email P& Many schools offer a Scholastic book sale that brings many of the company’s popular titles directly to students as part of a school fundraiser. 

Summer Reading Incentives
You’d be surprised how many bookstores, restaurants, banks, movie theaters and fun parks offer free books, tickets and more as incentives for summer reading. Many of these incentive programs require children to keep a log of books they read throughout the summer to receive a prize, such as a book, free meal, or gift card. Check out the list of programs on 

Want Ads—What!
Believe it or not, you can use the want ads and want-ad Web sites like Freecycle to request low- or no-cost school items such as children's books, art supplies, instruments and sports equipment. And while you're browsing the classified section, don't forget to check for yard sales that may be selling children’s books. 

Neighborhood Association
Ask your neighborhood association, a local civic group or faith-based organization if it will consider organizing a community book drive or book exchange that can be advertised to the membership. 

by Mocha Catherine Hollingsworth Hamm

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