Given my penchant for reading, I suspect I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I buy very few books.
Two shelves on Abby’s bedroom built-ins are filled with books, and we have a small bookshelf in the family room with under 100 books (a combination of adult + picture). Of the books we own, almost all have been handed down, gifted, purchased for a university course, or thrifted.
Some of it is economics – I’m a naturally frugal person and books aren’t an area where I generally want to spend money. (I’ve told this story before, but I think of it often: one of my best friends in college did a major budgeting session with her husband right after their wedding which resulted in strict spending guidelines but, she told me, “We both agreed there would be no limit on buying books!”)
I also don’t like clutter, and books can quickly become a major source of clutter.
So where do I get my books?
My number one source is the library (~95% of all the books I read). I visit our library – nestled inside a repurposed railway station – on a weekly basis. I also spend time every few weeks ordering books through their online portal (while I love wandering and browsing the shelves, since COVID, I order 80%+ of my books) and always have a stack on my bedside table.
I also regularly visit one of the many take-a-book/leave-a-book libraries that have cropped up around our little town, but this is pretty hit-and-miss and tends to house mostly thrillers and other fiction.
I occasionally source books second-hand at used book stores or thrift shops – or borrow them from friends – but the library is my happy place.
I have started to buy a few more books in recent years, but only after I’ve already read them (I am a big re-reader); I have most of Gretchen Rubin’s books, I asked for (and received) a boxset of the Harry Potter series a few Christmases ago, and started working on a James Herriot collection this year. In a shock decision, I ordered Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet within a day of finishing because I wanted it on my shelf (second-hand via Amazon).
How do you get your kids to read?
Growing up my Dad was always reading (my Mom enjoyed reading, but said she didn’t have the time for it, which I 100% understand now, but her statement flummoxed me at the time).
I tend to be a fast reader/like to skim and tend toward nonfiction which I think lends itself better to being picked up/put down frequently. So I read a lot of books (100+/year)
The kids see me reading regularly and, since the time they were infants, I’ve also been reading to them.
Picture books are still in steady rotation at our house, though I can feel this phase slowly slipping past me. I adore picture books and find there are often profound messages waiting for both parent and child.
During their early years, I would read to them multiple times a day. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve had to be more deliberate about carving out time for this. For a while I was splitting up bedtime by reading chapter books with Abby (in her room) and picture books with Levi (in his room). Now that both kids can comprehend the same reading level and go to bed at the same time, I tend to read almost exclusively at the table. I often finish eating first and will grab a book and start reading, especially at breakfast; on Saturday and Sunday nights they eat before John and I, so I read to them for the duration of their supper meal.
Once a week or so, we’ll cuddle on the couch at bedtime and read a chapter of whatever book we’re working on (currently: The Mysterious Benedict Society) or a handful of picture books.
I do miss reading to them each night. It was a nice wind-down ritual but I haven’t found a great way of reinstituting this routine now that the kids are more independent and bedtime is more streamlined; they dress themselves, brush their own teeth and, in a bittersweet development, sometimes want to just read on their own. Yet another example this This too shall pass.
P.S. Parenting Hack: Read Books With Accompanying Movies – I blogged about how we’ve been reading chapter books with accompanying movies; there were also some great suggestions in the comment section we haven’t gotten to yet! The kids watched a Pippi Longstocking movie this weekend, and we finally got around to watching Anne of Green Gables + another version of Heidi over March Break.
P.P.S Confessions of A Picture Book Addict (There Are Worse Things…) – I love picture books and will try to find a way to keep reading them forever, if only to myself.
Your turn. Are you a borrower or a buyer? If you have young kiddos at home, how do you incorporate reading into your family routine?