From before my kids were born, they were read to. Books have always been around, and will always be around in our house. I make sure to keep a variety of books on lots of different topics at different reading levels. It keeps things interesting and they wind up trying different books that they might not have read but since they’re at home, they give them a shot. As much as we love reading, it can be a costly habit to keep up. Books are expensive, and while my kids read them multiple times, they do like having new titles added to the mix. We check out garage sales and thrift stores for deals on books. I heard about a book swap and wanted to give it a try. The concept is that everyone brings some books and leaves with some new ones. Sounds good right? Here’s what you need to know to host a book swap:
Pick a Date
I chose to host my book swap just before school got out for the summer. Lots of families here kind of scatter for summer vacation so I wanted to try and catch them before they left on vacations. This would also be a great way to catch up with friends over the summer or even over a winter break too. Ideally, this is going to be an outside event so that played into my choice of date and time as well. You could certainly do this inside too if the weather was inclement or it was just too hot or cold outside.
Make the Guest List
Go through your list of friends (and your children’s friends) and put together your guest list. When I was thinking about who to invite, I tried to think about people with kids about the same age and reading level so they’d have books to swap. I also tend to over-invite because not everyone can always attend and the more the merrier at something like this.
How You’ll Swap
You can have guests drop their books off in advance to you so you can sort them if you’d like. This will let you know where you might have some gaps so you can invite other friends or hit garage sales to find some new books for the kids to choose from. If you don’t want to sort the books before hand, just have everyone bring their books with them the day of the swap. Have designated areas for different types of books: board and picture books, easy readers, chapter books, young adult books, ect. Sorting by themes or interest could also be helpful if your guests are all close to the same age or reading level.
For our swap, I asked everyone to bring at least five books per child. That means that they’ll also get to choose five new to them books to take back home. If you want more books, ask your guests to bring more with them. Because I’m a worrier, I’m also supplementing the swap choices with books I’ve picked up from garage sales and am putting in more of my own kid’s books that they’re finished with to be sure everyone will have plenty of choices for their new books. A couple of publishers are also sending me copies of their books to include in the swap (thank you Disney Publishing!!).
Moms Can Swap Too
In addition to the kid’s books, I’m also asking moms to bring books to swap too. Moms deserve new books too, and it’s a good reminder to take time for yourself to read. It’s a great example to your kids to see you reading and some new books will have you excited about quiet time during the day to read. Are you going to include magazines in your swap? Those can also be pricey but something fun to read while you’re waiting in the car rider line or to pick the kids up from summer camp.
At the Swap
During our swap, in addition to swapping books, I’m going to have a couple of other fun activities for the kids to do. Goliath Games was kind enough to send some cool games for us to try out. I’m also going to make some bubbles to play with. My goal is to help my mom friends come up with some fun ways to keep the kids entertained this summer without breaking the bank. I want everyone to leave feeling like they’ve had a fun afternoon with their family and learned something new.
When the time comes, you’ll need to have a plan in place. I’ve read about people drawing numbers, letters, or shapes to choose the order the kids will pick their books in. You can also cut straws in different lengths and use that to determine the order. Let each kiddo pick a new to them book then cycle through the rest of the guests until everyone’s gotten their first book. Keep repeating this process until everyone’s picked their limit of books. Here’s where the sorting books could come in handy. Instead of making everyone wait to choose, you can split up your guests by reading level or interest. For example, little ones reading board books or picture books won’t be interested in the young adult chapter books.
Taking It All Home
Encourage your guests to bring a bag with them to take their new books home. I’m planning to head to our local dollar store and picking up solid colored bags for my guests because they’ll be getting a few other little goodies to take home with them in addition to new books. Books can get heavy so make sure the bags are sturdy enough if you’re providing them.