Frugal Home

Why reading is the ultimate frugal activity and some children’s book recommendations.

Pencil Crayons

Reading can be insanely frugal. Visits to libraries around the country are way up even though there is a common misconception that they’re outdated and no one uses them anymore. If you haven’t been to your local library lately- check them out! Our local library not only has lots of awesome print books, they have access to books for your kindle, passes to the museum, and frequently have programming for kids.

Another way to give the gift of reading to others is book sales! We have 6 different book sales from early spring to late summer that we attend and they’re great! At one of the sales the most expensive the books get are $1 each and the cheapest are kids soft covers for 10 cents (on Sunday’s you can fill a bag for $3). I love picking up copies of books we already own and sending them as fun surprises to relatives and friends.

The following 10 books are our most loved children’s books of all time and whenever I see a copy at a book sale I pick them up to hang on to for the right moment. Some come from my childhood, some come from my kids, and a couple come from when I was a guidance counselor. I’ve included affiliated links so that you can check them out on amazon and see what they look like, but know that while they’re cheap on amazon (less than $10) if you buy them used (or in some cases brand new), you can also pick them up at the library, or book sales. As a parent I love receiving books as presents for my kids- often times they’re new to us author’s to discover, they don’t take up a lot of space and they can be passed down.

  1. “Odd Velvet” by Mary Whitcomb- this is a book that I read to my 1st graders as a guidance counselor, but also read to my children a couple of times a week. It’s a great story of a little girl who doesn’t have a lot of money, but has a wonderful family that finds creative ways to enjoy life. Velvet is different, but the kids realize that she’s pretty amazing just the same.
  2. “Little House on the Prairie Series”– so there are a few different ways to enjoy this series. If you have older children, reading out loud from the Laura Ingals Wilder series is a great way to talk about the values presented in the book and her style of writing draws kids in. If you have younger kids, we really enjoy the Little House Picture Books with illustrations by Doris Ettlinger. The pictures really help the story come alive.
  3. “Jenny’s Birthday Book” Esther Averill- there are a number of books written about Jenny and her more famous friend Pickles the Fire cat, they’ve all been reprinted in recent years. My mom worked at a school that was closed down and she allowed to keep any books from the library that she wanted- this book was one of them and was a first edition from 1954. I still have it and it has been very well loved and is falling apart. Some of the books in this series are more like early chapter books, but Jenny’s Birthday Book and Pickles the Fire Cat are a good place to start and make great birthday presents.
  4. “Little Fur Family” Margaret Wise Brown- Margaret Wise Brown is one that I had a hard time choosing just one book for. She has so many that are so well loved (Good Night Moon probably being the most popular), but not everyone knows about The Little Fur Family. It’s a cute book that kids love and it has lots of “familiar” characters like a grumpy old grandpa who lives in a stump. This was my absolute favorite book growing up. Another one to check out if you like Brown as an author is Mister Dog- my son really likes that one.
  5. “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” Judith Viorst- Also a very popular author, but not known particularly well for this book. It’s a good thing that it’s only around $6 on amazon because I send this book to everyone when they experience the loss of a pet, young, old, doesn’t matter. I’ve picked up 3 or 4 copies at book sales too so it’s a good one to keep an eye out for. Just a very sweet story about a boy who experiences the death of his cat and is trying to process what that means. If you’re buying it because you or your children have experienced the loss of a pet, best read it alone the first time- it’s a tear jerker.
  6. “Everywhere Babies”– Susan Meyers-  we have read this book over and over and over again. It’s a great book to give to a child who has a new sibling. My older two like to read it and recognize the things they see our “baby” doing. The “baby” (who’s not really a baby anymore), loves the pictures. There’s something in it for everyone. (I also cry at the end of this book, but only because I’m a Mom and babies man, they getcha every time).
  7. ” I Spy Picture Riddle Books” Jean Marzollo- I loved these books when I was a kid and our oldest is starting to get into them too. They have preschool versions and they’re very inexpensive on Amazon even brand new. They make a good birthday present. We picked up a few brand new ones at a book sale last year for $1 a piece.
  8. “The Giant Jam Sandwich” this is Frugal Husband’s number one pick. It has great rhyming and awesome pictures. I will also guarantee that if you buy it as a present, no kid will have a copy of it because it’s not hugely common. Shows team work and you can read the book and make jam sandwiches of your own as a follow up activity.
  9. “Hurty Feelings” Helen Lester – this is a guidance counselor pick for me and anything that you pick from Helen Lester will be good. This one is good if you have a child who tends to be on the sensitive side. Another favorite at our house is “Me First”
  10. “The Big Orange Splot” Another pick from Frugal Husband is all about being who you are and doing what you love. This was my book as a kid and Frugal Husband fell in love with it as did the kids. As a follow up activity, have your kids draw the house of their dreams and see what they come up with.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there. Happy Reading!

Leave a Reply