How to Source Books for Build Your Library

May 18, 2020

source_booksThe core of Build Your Library’s literature-based homeschool curriculum is a  stack of great quality books. Building young minds, one book at a time! But how do you acquire all of these books? Some of the larger curriculum companies provide a one-box solution where they ship you the entire year’s worth of books all at once, for a ridiculously high price tag.

But we provide our customers with a flexible sourcing methodology that is much more cost-effective.  And maybe even fun, if you enjoy hunting for a bargain. We ourselves are a homeschooling family, and we made sure we designed our products for homeschooling families with homeschool budgets in mind.

Sure, we could have assembled complete single boxes for $800 or $900 for you. But what if you already have some of the books in your home library? What if you wanted to borrow some of the books from your public library or inter-library loan? Maybe you have a local used book store or homeschool co-op book swap and could get some of them for cheaper. Maybe your favorite online bookseller had a really great deal.

Surely frugal homeschoolers would welcome the option and flexibility of being able to find some bargains.  The internet as a whole is an outstanding resource for shopping around to find the best deal, all from the comfort of your sofa. So let’s discuss some of your options below.


Probably the easiest way to gather all of your books is to fill up your Amazon cart and hit buy it now. All of our required books are listed on our website as hyperlinks to, so you can purchase them all together and get your big box to open. Actually, with the way Amazon ships from their closest distributor, you will likely get several boxes to open. As a homeschool family, you must have Amazon Prime for free shipping, right?

Amazon is a homeschooling staple, and is a great option for all of your books, or some of your booklist.  Always look for the best deal for your family, whether it is new or used, or cheaper elsewhere. Remember, all merchant fulfilled used books on Amazon charge a flat rate of $3.99 shipping. If it doesn’t ship Prime from the Amazon warehouse, those fees may add up.

Other Online Booksellers

Typically, the big booksellers such as Barnes and Noble sell much closer to the full retail price. But you might find a deal, or have a coupon. Did you know, as a homeschool parent you qualify for their educator discount program? You can get 20% off the publisher’s list price on select items considered suitable for use in the classroom or with the students. This includes most of their hardcover and paperback titles, and even some toys and games. So it doesn’t hurt to take a few minutes and look what they have. – Book Depository has a great selection. They are an excellent option if you live outside of the United States, but if not, be very patient, because it can take weeks for your order to ship to you. – I adore Book Outlet. There was a time when I was ordering from them almost monthly. Book Outlet is a wholesale bookseller, so you can get extremely good deals.

ThriftBooks – ThriftBooks sells new and used books. If you stick to the used book section of their storefront, you’ll find some really great deals. – I recently discovered Bookshop and I’m really excited about it. They sell new books and a portion of every sale goes back to independent book stores! They are out to compete with Amazon, so they have a great selection. However, like a bookstore, their prices are closer to full retail.

Non Standard Online Sources – Don’t count out eBay as a great sourcing location for new, used, and out-of-print books. You will find many listings from small private sellers to huge thrift stores and bargain book resellers listing thousands of titles. You can even sometimes find book bundles for specific Build Your Library levels. Just pay attention to the seller’s shipping cost and factor in their estimated delivery time. Most likely books will ship USPS media mail, not 2 day UPS. – If you don’t mind digital copies, is a huge repository of free and borrowable books. There are several books needed for Build Your Library curriculum and many suitable for additional resources if you need them.

There are also several other sites such as AbeBooks.comScribd and the Libby app by Overdrive… depending on if you are looking for physical books, e-books, or audio copies.

Public Libraries

The shelves of your local public library – as well as the shelves of all of the public libraries within your greater interlibrary loan system – are a great resource. But you have a couple of considerations to make. If you need a book for extended periods of time, such as a spine book, you may consider purchasing if your library will not allow for borrowing for that length of time. Also, you will need to plan ahead and make sure the material will arrive in time from a neighboring city. Or in case another homeschool mom beats you to your request and checks out your book for a couple weeks themselves.

Shop Local

Your Build Your Library shopping list is always as close as your smartphone. All of the required books can be found on each of the product web pages. Next time you are at your local thrift store, used book store, co-op book swap or even a driveway yard sale, pop open, and see what available books match your list.


Another option is the BYL Book Swap Facebook group. You can find other BYL customers selling their used books or looking for your extra ones.

You might also try out the Facebook Marketplace, which is similar to Craigslist style classified ads. Who knows what someone in your local area may list.

COVID-19 Exceptions

The spirit of this post assumes a normal non-pandemic availability of products and services. For the most part, online booksellers and eBay sellers are still sending out orders at a reasonable rate. Unfortunately, local public libraries all have different time-frames for opening back up. But check yours out, many may have curbside pickup or other creative availability.

Local thrift stores or garage sales may also have some challenges, so you will have to follow any community restrictions you may have. But as always, plan ahead and seek whichever sourcing method works best for your own personal situation. Luckily, the list of options is still rather robust and you will hopefully find everything you need!

Do you have any creative book sourcing options that have worked for your family? We’d love to add any of your suggestions to help out others. Please comment below, on our Facebook page, or message us!


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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

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Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no cost to you.


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About Build Your Library

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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