Homeschooling parents have an advantage in the fact that they can happily use the textbooks of yesterday’s over-budgeted public school whims. Many schools toss out these textbooks after a year or so when the newer editions come in. Although they purchase the new editions, little changes from edition to edition. Textbook publishers must keep coming out with new editions in order to turn a profit. Some public school systems have thrown out textbooks entirely with the new emphasis on using computer printouts and photocopies. In this instance, their loss is your gain as a homeschooling parent.
Although the world is going digital with downloads on the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook, very few textbooks have reached this platform as of yet. On a recent trip to Barnes and Noble to learn more about the Nook and to play around with one in the store, the salesperson indicated that Barnes and Noble hoped to begin providing textbooks on the platform by the end of 2012. However, this will most likely begin with textbooks on the college level, as this group of consumers will be required to have certain texts. It may be years before textbooks are offered as e-books for children.
Here are some areas in which you may be able to locate textbooks for your homeschool. Very few libraries carry any textbooks in any form or fashion.
Contact Your Local School System Regarding Textbooks
Make friends with the local school system. Although at times there is tension between homeschooling families and the officials at the local school central office, it does not have to be that way. Often schools have a repository of textbooks that they have removed from the schools in a warehouse. For example, I homeschool my gifted elementary school aged child. He loves the French language. When one of our local high schools stopped providing French instruction, the textbooks, workbooks and French language tapes were placed in the warehouse.
I was allowed to sign these materials out for one year at a time. Be nice, and seek assistance from student services. Do keep in mind that you pay local taxes that pay for these materials whether or not your child is enrolled in school. Politely ask and state this if necessary. Math materials are often hard to locate so this could be a place to find them.
Check on Auction Sites Once a Week for Textbooks
EBay and other auction sites often list textbooks for sale. You may often find these, but at times the price will be at a premium and then shipping is involved as well. There is such a demand for these hard cover textbooks that prices even on used items will be very high. Be sure to add insurance on any textbooks with a steep price tag.
Scout Yard Sales for Textbooks
You may find some textbooks at yard sales, but not usually as these books stay within the confines of the school itself. An exception to this would be the yard sale of a retired educator, who may have many to unload for mere cents. You should, however, be able to find some paperback classics that every child has been required to read.
Attend Book Charity Sales to Find Textbooks
Many towns and cities across America have Friends of the Library groups. These groups often hold fundraisers where the community donates unwanted books and the volunteer group then organizes a sale to raise money for needed library materials. Prices are usually rock bottom. Check with local libraries in your region and mark the events on your calendar.
Thrift Stores are the Best Bet to Find Textbooks
I have found that the best finds for textbooks are in thrift stores. Searching through the book pile in thrift stores is well worth the investment of time. The reason is because books are generally items that do not sell in family yard sales; thus the leftovers are often donated. In addition, both schools and school systems haul all the discarded books often to the thrift stores, because it is cheaper to donate than to pay landfill fees.
Some thrift stores and ministries even offer free pickup of any items donated. So instead of searching online or hitting up twenty yard sales, you can often find appropriate and needed textbooks for less than one dollar each. For example, at my local thrift store, I have found brand new system textbooks on art, science and social studies and history for ten cents each. These books had never even been cracked open. I recently bought an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica for a grand total of $4.00, including over a decade of yearly ‘year book’ updates. They had belonged to a school. They are not the most current of encyclopedias, but honestly, recorded general history rarely changes.
A Final Note Regarding Textbooks and Homeschooling
Hold onto any textbooks you have, for within a decade many will become obsolete. I am now teaching my son out of an extra state history book that I had from my eighth grade year, as well as a spelling book. I personally have found these items to be superior in both format and information than to any modern workbook or printable material off the Internet. If you feel you have no need for them anymore, donate them to a thrift store or give them to a homeschooling group. No doubt, others will find these textbooks to be treasures. If you are industrious, you could sell them on an online auction site. You may find then just how valuable they are.