A trip to the bookstore is a joy many families can’t afford. Rising costs, a weakened economy and high unemployment are taking their toll.  Would literacy levels improve if books were cheaper or even free? We think so.  Children in disadvantaged areas miss out the most and there is an urgent need to get books into their hands and homes.

Publishing costs

While independent booksellers do their best to offer books at fair prices, they can’t compete with the bigger book sellers who can order huge quantities and get better discounts. But even books from those bigger retailers can be expensive.

According to Nick Boraine, Publishing Director of Jonathan Ball Publishers, more than half the books you find on the shelves of your local bookshop are imported from the UK or the US. Because the Rand is weak against these currencies, the price is pushed up.

6 Easy Ways to Get Books 

We’ve rounded up a few ways to get cheap or free books.

  1. Libraries. Remember those?  Try your school library or find your local library.  If there isn’t a great one in your area, try the neighbourhoods around you.  Ask on group chats.  If your school has no library, consider helping to set one up.  Get sponsors and ask the school to help create a space. Consider partnering with an organisation like The Bookery and create a library.
  2. Book Clubs.  Start a children’s book club amongst your friends or community. Meet every few weeks to swap books and take turns hosting it at your house or school or find a communal space.
  3. Book Sales.  Many book shops hold regular books sales where books are available at half price. Libraries also often sell books donated to them at low prices.
  4. Second hand book stores.  Many neighbourhoods have second hand book stores where you can pick up books at reasonable prices.  Do a google search to find them in your area. Sell or swap them back for new books.
  5. Donations. When your children are done with their books, donate them to others.  (let them keep their absolute favourites – there’s nothing better than a much- loved re-read book!) Keep good books circulating so more children can read them.
  6. Free book resources. We love Book Dash, Storyline Online, StoryWeaver, International Children’s Digital Library, Oxford Owl, Hoopla Digital eBooks, Overdrive (you need to link to your school’s account), Cloud Library, and Project Gutenberg.

Ultimately there is a need for better recycling of second hand books.  We are always amazed at how many books get donated around Mandela Day or World Book Day.  This is the future.  Every child needs a book and every book needs a home. To donate books to The Book Tree Club, which distributes them to schools in need, contact us here.

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