In my last post, I mentioned Scholastic book orders as a place where you could trim your budget. It reminded me about a friend who once told me she felt it was important not to limit spending on books, because they were so important to a child’s well being and education.
As an avid reader, and author myself, I completely agree that instilling a love for learning and reading is critical to good parenting. But is our book spending on a tight budget? You betcha!
There are so many ways I could expose my children to incredible learning experiences if our bank account was bottomless. However, I choose to work within the confines of the reality of our income, and that means finding budget friendly alternatives.
My book buying budget is $5 a month. That means when the Scholastic flyer comes home in a backpack, it’s tossed into the recycling bin immediately. We have fun playing in the giant teacup in Chapters Indigo, but have never even browsed the shelves (I’m not certain my kids see past the plasma cars to realize Chapters even sells books).
There are many books I loved and cherished as a child (my favourite is The Giving Tree), and plenty of books today that I value for their message and beautiful illustrations. These days I’m loving You Are Sooooo Beautiful and Buckets – they have exceptional messages about feelings and self-esteem and are expressed beautifully.
However, owning one particular book will not change your child’s life. Even if you buy a certain book, if your child doesn’t connect with it, the message is lost. They might like reading it, but if you’re not modeling the same behavior, and tying it back to everyday life, the specific usefulness of that sharing, caring, or bullying book won’t matter.
I buy books for my kids at charity book sales, where childrens’ books are often two for $1. I buy them at Value Village or Salvation Army, where they’re $1 each or less. I stock up at garage sales, where I’ve never paid more than $0.25 for a book. I’ve found books about respecting your parents, accepting friends of other skin colours, and anti-bullying. I’ve definitely found a few dogs too (in one classic Mary Meyers book, the mother asks while shopping, “Do you want a spanking?” simply because the child is asking too many questions).
If there’s a book I think my child will love, I’ll either save up for it, or check it out from the library (our library lets us request that they bring a book in if they don’t already carry it). I just don’t feel the need to have a bookshelf at home overflowing with books touted as the solution to any emotional problems my child might have. I figure that money is better socked away in an RESP to someday pay for the books they really need – their college or university textbooks.
Or, I guess, therapy.