Which books to own, which to borrow?

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  • Jennymalone

    We have a small house and I’m trying to prioritize which books we own and which we borrow from the library. Obviously if a necessary book is out of print or uncommon enough to likely be unavailable at the library, that would be a good one to own. I’m guessing the next priority would be spines, or books that would stretch out over a longer period of time than I could reasonably borrow. Or books we would return to frequently for reference or tidbits, like poetry anthologies or encyclopedias, or favorites that would be read over and over, like the various stories in the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series.

    I would love to hear suggestions from you all about which books are your “must owns” (or which you have felt would have been better as a once and done borrow). There are so many who have gone before and tread this path that I am still so new on, and I would be blessed to glean from your experience.


    I do have 5 children, and the oldest is just beginning school, so I recognize that any book we own will be used more than once. I’m just trying to not bury the whole house in books which is so easy and tempting to do!


    I buy books that we will read again. For History that includes quite a few, but we have used them multiple years so have been worth the investment. I buy as many as I can used online (abebooks, thriftbooks… are just a few options) paying only a few dollars per book. Over the years history has gotten less expensive because I have the majority of the books and only had to buy a few at the next grade level up. Our shelves look like a library since many used books we buy are old library copies with the old library labels.

    My rule, so as to not gather too many books, also became if the book is not something I would want to reread, I do not keep it. I don’t care how much of a “classic” it is, if we did not enjoy it, we are not going to keep it. We can always find it at a library or used if we want to try it again.

    We have a smaller home, and I joke that our house looks a bit like a library. We put up shelves in our living room that hold all the books, so the moment you walk in the front door you are greeted with books, haha. I asked the kids about it before, if we should move the books and put up artwork, and my kids all agreed, they like the books because when they see books they want to read.


    I dont know how much help I can be since my house is bulging with books. We have a small home also and I am currently attempting to purge so that the books I have fit on the bookshelves I have, rather than stacked on every flat surface. My current purge test is “Will someone want to read this when schooling is over?” If the answer is no, curriculum, boring narratives etc then it is out. If my kids have “aged out” of something I let it go, unless I really want to share with grandkids. I gave up on passing my curriculum down, no one wants twenty year old phonics or math programs. One or two encyclopedia style is enough for all years of school. I check my library, including the inter library loan. If I can get it that way I will, I can always buy it if I just love it. Our library auto renews many times so I can keep most books for at least a term or two. It helps me to ask if I can bless a family with it also. We have been blessed so much, if we arent using something I feel like a bad steward if I am not willing to let it go. It feels better to gift my books to another homeschool family than to give them to the Thrift store. Silly I know. It is very hard to oart with old friends, but sometimes it is necessary!

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