In a world with an increasing number of educational toys, learning-based television shows, and apps-for-everything, it might seem that real books made from real trees are a thing of the past. The time and expense of adding to your child’s library may seem overwhelming or unimportant. Or maybe you’re like me, just plain tired of reading the same books over and over again! Here are three fun ways I’ve found to keep kids interested in reading while adding new books to your stash. Oh, and did I mention they’re FREE?
LITTLE FREE LIBRARY
By far the cutest option on my list is the Little Free Library! Maybe you’ve seen these around town – we’ve got one in Riverside, one near the zoo, one downtown, one in College Hill and two in the Brook Hollow area – maybe more! These are just the ones we’ve visited. They each have a unique style – be on the lookout for an over-sized birdhouse or unusually stylish mail box. A map with GPS coordinates and addresses is available here – the hunt is half the fun! My daughter loves scouting out the nearest Little Free Library – in fact, promising a stop for a new book often makes a day of errands much more bearable for both of us! The idea is this: bring a book you’d like to swap (they’re stocked with adult & kids’ books, so parents can snag one, too!), track down an LFL, leave your book and choose a new one. I typically keep our Little Free Library books in the back pocket of my passenger seat so we always have one on hand.
DOLLY PARTON’S IMAGINATION LIBRARY
Several months ago, an acquaintance on Instagram posted a picture of her kids with books they had just received in the mail from Imagination Library. FOR FREE. I immediately hopped online to do a little digging and was thrilled with what I found. The organization aims to build children’s literacy by sending youngsters a free book every month from birth until their 6th birthday. There are some eligibility requirements for this program, but if you are a Wichita-area family with kiddos ages 5 and under, you likely already meet those requirements! My kids LOVE getting packages in the mail, and I have been extremely pleased with the quality of the books we receive. Imagination Library has sent both hard and paperback selections, and each book comes with discussion questions and other suggestions for parents to enhance time spent reading with each child. Registration is free and can be done online by clicking here.
BOOK SWAPPING MADE EASY
Organizing your own book swap doesn’t have to be a huge production involving an email chain and a trip to the post office (am I the only mama who loses a piece of her soul every time she has to mail a package?). Keep it simple! Are you going to breakfast with friends? Have everyone bring a couple of books they’ve tired of and trade ’em! Got a playdate this afternoon? Ask your child’s pal to bring a book or two they don’t read often and make the switch. Allowing your child to choose which books s/he passes on to a friend will also give you an idea of which types of books they do and don’t enjoy, as well as offer them some control, so they don’t feel like their possessions are being arbitrarily given away. They may even surprise you and pass on a favorite!