Declutter Children’s Books With A Book Exchange

You want your children to learn to love reading so you constantly buy books for them.  But children are always outgrowing their books like they outgrow their clothes. Once the clothes are too small it’s easy to get rid of them but it’s a lot harder to let go of the books.  So they keep adding up until overflowing bookshelves start turning into stacks of books on dressers and floors.  Time to declutter!

So how do you get your children (and yourself) to let go of their books?  One way is to have a neighborhood book exchange.  This is where you get together with a few neighbors who have children similar in ages (some older, some younger) and are looking to declutter the old books for new ones.

One simple way to do this is to “buy” your children’s books from them so they can “buy” other books at the exchange.  Print up coupons for 50 cents and $1.00.  Paperbacks and baby books are worth the 50 cent coupon and hardback books are worth the $1.00 coupon.  Pay your children for each book they are willing to declutter.  The more coupons they get the more “new” books they will be able to purchase.  This teaches them that if they get rid of the old they will make room for the new.

If there are books you want to keep for younger siblings then you purchase the books from your older child and put the books away.  If the older child has to give their books to their younger siblings without compensation they will feel cheated.  If they don’t get enough coupons to buy “new” books they will lose their enthusiasm for decluttering the old books.

Here are a few simple steps to get this project going.

  1. Contact enough neighbors and friends who want to do this.
  2. Decide on a date and who’s house this will take place at.  It can be indoors or out but this is a private event so you don’t want it looking like a garage sale.
  3. Print up coupons.  Each parent can print their own coupons or one person can design and/or print them all.  The only thing that needs to be standard is the amount on the coupons. As stated above, 50 cents and $1.00 seem reasonable and easy for young children to add up.  If one parent is creative let them design real cute coupons so the children enjoy them more.
  4. Once the coupons are printed and cut apart start “paying” your children for each book they are willing to declutter.  Gather these books in bags or boxes to be set up at the sale location.  If possible while boxing the books you’ll want to separate them according to reading age.  This will make it easier to set up so the children can find the appropriate books for themselves.
  5. At the sale have children exchange their coupons for the books they want.  If they have any leftover coupons because they couldn’t find enough books to their liking you could exchange the coupons for cash.  Then take them to the bookstore to buy a new book or two.  There’s nothing like the feel and smell of a brand new book to get a child enthusiastic about reading.
  6. Leftover books can be donated to local schools, libraries, or charities.  Plan ahead for what you will do with the leftover ones so they don’t sit around in boxes, unused. Most teachers stock their classroom libraries with books they purchase with their own money.  Donating the books to some of the new teachers will help them better educate future students.

During this book exchange you can have a separate table for adult books.  You don’t have to use the coupons unless everyone wants to. You can just trade one book for another one.  This way you get new reading material while at the same time decluttering your old books.