Category Archives: books

5 Thrifty Tips for Building Your Home Library (Homeschooling on a Budget)

We have 5 kids, and live on one income. For many, that in itself seems like a major feat. Add in homeschooling, and it can quickly appear overwhelming for almost any budget. That doesn’t have to be the case though! There are lots of ways to give your children a quality education at home without spending more than you have. Homeschooling on a budget is very doable.

One of those ways is by offering them lots and lots of opportunities to read about a wide variety of subjects. (Like with our 100 Books in August challenge!) We love reading in our house! I believe that helping them gain the ability to read well and instilling a love for reading in my children is a very important part of their education. In order to encourage a love for books of all kinds from an early age, I love having shelves filled with books of all kinds of topics that may interest the children – fiction, biographies, how-to books, travel books, books of famous artwork, storybooks, etc. At first glance, our shelves of books would seem like a huge investment, but I’m going to share a few tips for building a home library on a budget.



This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them will not alter your pricing, but it will benefit my family and this blog.

1. Thrift stores and second hand bookstores – This is probably the most obvious place to start. We are not lucky enough to have a second hand bookstore nearby, but I love searching through the stacks of books when I do come across one. Many thrift stores also have a sale schedule that allows you to buy items at an even bigger discount.

2. Yard sales – This is a favorite of mine. I picked up a huge lot of Magic Treehouse books, a favorite series of my oldest son, for 10 cents each last summer.

3. Amazon used book dealers – This is another favorite of mine. Many books can be found for as low as 1 cent, plus $3.99 shipping. I check out the vendor’s ratings before ordering, but I have not had a single bad experience with buying books this way. The next time you click over on Amazon, don’t assume that Prime price is the lowest you can score. Look for the used prices too.

4. Bulk book sellers – Yes, you can buy books in bulk! One book seller I’ve used is Books by the Foot. You can purchase books about a specific topic, art or golf maybe, by the foot (usually 6-12 books per foot, their site gives numbers for each subject). They also offer boxes of children’s books! Some new, some used, and some boxes can be a mix of new and used. You don’t get to pick the titles, so it was a fun surprise to sift through the big box and see what treasures had arrived! I purchased a box a year or so ago. Some of the books we already owned, and some I just didn’t care for. Those few, I separated out and sold in a yard sale of my own. πŸ™‚

5. Local library sales – Most people think of the library as a great economical way to read. Endless shelves of books you can read and return for free! But most libraries also sell their discarded books. Our small town library has a shelf tucked under a window where they keep piles of books that can be purchased for a quarter or two. The larger library about an hour away has two rooms full of books available to be purchased! A few months ago I happened to be able to stop by while they were having their monthly bag sale. That means you can fill one of their blue bags with as many books as you can cram in it, and they will all be yours for $2. Needless to say, I didn’t stop at 1 bag. πŸ™‚ I purchased 2 bags for a total of 29 books at $4! That’s less than $.14 per book. Of course not every book was for the kids – 2 or 3 were for me. πŸ™‚ Go check out your local library, even if it’s a tiny one!

We still use and love our libraries borrowing great books, but I also love having all our own books. Some books might not have looked exciting enough in the moment to be chosen at the library, but on a shelf at home, will be later discovered at the perfect time, as a treasure by one of my kids when a new interest is sparked!



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Filed under books, homeschooling, saving money

100 Books in August (2016)

It’s that time of year again! Boxes are arriving on our porch daily, filled with colorful new books, art supplies, and even several DVDs that I will be using to educate my children this year. (I’ll be sharing all about our curriculum choices in another post.)
Once again, this year we are kicking off our school year with 100 books in August! This will be our third year for the challenge, and we’re all excited to get started. We have a stack of overdue library books to speed through, (Thank goodness for small town libraries that don’t charge late fees!) and are also enjoying The Long Winter, our current read aloud.

The goal of this challenge is for us to read 100 books in the month of August which will help us get back in the swing of reading together, and if we reach our goal (we always do), we earn a fun family activity! Once again, my kiddos have chosen Chuck E. Cheese as their prize. I may try to convince them to take another option.Β  πŸ™‚ This is a fun way to get us excited about getting back into our school lessons, and it gives the kids motivation to spend those super hot afternoons reading together instead of begging for screentime or whining about being bored. You’re kids do that too, right?

(This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through them will not change your pricing, but will benefit our family and this blog.)

My 6 year old loves to read, but doesn’t usually want to read aloud, so this challenge is also good motivation for him to practice his reading skills to his siblings. This year we will follow the same rules as last year for my 6 year old’s reading to count toward our goal. Here are a few of our guidelines:

  • If he reads a book, he has to read it aloud to his siblings (because this is 100 books for everyone!), bring it to us, answer a few questions, and then read a bit of it aloud to us, for it to count. If it is listed, he will also be taking a book quiz on
  • Our read aloud chapter books will count as 1 book per chapter.
  • Books such as our science textbook for school do not count.
  • While I want to include as many different books as possible, my kids will be choosing the books most of the time, so I know I’ll be reading some books multiple times.

Join in! PRINT YOUR OWN STICKER CHART, decide on a prize for your family, and share your progress andΒ  book choices on Instagram, Twitter, or Instagram with #100BooksinAugust! I love to see what everyone else is reading!

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Our First Bookroo & a Discount for You!

bookroo package with logo

What is Bookroo? It is a subscription book service for kids! How awesome is that? About a month ago I was introduced to Bookroo my friend (and fellow blogger) Emily. After looking into the company a bit more, and really liking what I saw, I ordered our first box and then anxiously waited. I knew this would be a great addition to our reading for theΒ 100 Books in August challenge, and they did not disappoint. When the package arrived at our house last week, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. The wrapping alone was lovely.

bookroo wrapped package

Inside were two, individually wrapped hardbacks: Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleepover and Pirate Nap: A Book of Colrs. My boys loved the surprise of each getting to open a new book. We paused our in-progress art lesson to read both books right away.
IMG_2309_2 IMG_2311

The stories were great, with cute illustrations. Hugless Douglas and the Big Sleepover is a fun story about a bear heading to a sleepover at his friend Rabbit’s house and what happens when he brings along lots of extra friends. It’s a perfect bedtime story. We will be taking it along for my kids’ next sleepover with their cousins.

Pirate Nap is the story of some cute little pirate brothers (and their baby sister – perfect for my crew!) and their colorful adventures before naptime. It was obviously a fast favorite of my boys. The rest of the afternoon they could be heard shouting pirate lingo as they crafted a boat from a cardboard box, made a flag, and had their own adventures.


THAT is my favorite thing about reading.kangaroo logoWant to know more? Head on over to to start your own subscription! They have three subscription options, and you can also choose between board books or picture books. The order process is super easy. Sign up, choose your book type and subscription, and they handle the rest! Even better? If you purchase a subscription through the above link, you’ll receive a special discount of $4 off, just for being a reader of my blog! (Coupon will be added at checkout.)

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100 Books in August {2015}


Last August I used the 100 Books in August challenge to get us back into the swing of things for school. It was a big hit with the kids, and at the end we celebrated our accomplishment with a family night out to eat pizza and play putt putt. A few weeks ago, my oldest son mentioned it, so I decided we would try it again! The boys got excited as I printed out our sticker chart this morning, so I have no doubt they will once again be reminding me each day how many books we need to read that day to meet our goal.

This year will be a bit different though, with my 5 year old reading now. Here are a few of our guidelines:

  • If he reads a book, he has to read it aloud to his siblings (because this is 100 books for everyone!), bring it to us, answer a few questions, and then read a bit of it aloud to us, for it to count.
  • Our read aloud chapter books will count as 1 book per chapter. (We’re currently enjoying On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.)
  • Books such as our science or history textbooks for school do not count.
  • While I want to include as many different books as possible, my kids will be choosing the books most of the time, so I know I’ll be reading some books multiple times.

For this year’s reward, we have chosen a family date at Chuck E. Cheese’s. It was a suggestion from our oldest. πŸ™‚ I prefer the reward each year to be something fun the whole family can do together, instead of just purchasing something. We read together, and we celebrate together!

I will definitely be sharing some of our reading here, but I’ll also be sharing throughout the challenge on Instagram! If you would like to join in, link back to here on your blog posts and/or follow me on Instagram and include the hashtags #mommythezookeeper and #100booksinAugust. It’s fun seeing what everyone else is reading and getting ideas for new books to look for!

And leave a comment telling me what your reward will be at the end of the month!

Be sure to click HERE to print out your own sticker chart too!


Filed under books, homeschooling

Read Aloud Time With Littles


Over the last couple of years, whenever I’ve mentioned having read aloud time with my kids (ages 4, 3, 21 months, and 4 months), I’ve often gotten lots of questions. What do you read? Do they understand it? How do you get them to sit still? How long do you read at a time?

What do I read?
About a year ago I started reading chapter books to my boys. We still read story books a lot, but added this time (usually everyday) as a part of our school lessons to increase vocabulary, learn new things, and just to encourage a love for reading beyond storybooks. We started with a simple book from their collection. Each chapter was basically a story in itself but about the same characters. Then we moved on to a book from the Boxcar Children series. Then sharks and a couple of other short fiction chapter books. Now we are about to finish Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Do they understand it?

Yes and no. The younger two definitely don’t understand much, but they are seeing how much everyone else enjoys reading! I choose books that are simple enough that they understand the general story and cover topics I think they will enjoy. (Farmer Boy has been a huge hit!) One of the things I love about reading these stories to my kids is how much they (and I!) learn about things other than reading. Some days they ask lots of questions. Sometimes we have to stop and discuss the meanings of words or Google something on my phone for pictures, videos, or just a better explanation. Last week we watched YouTube videos on sheep shearing. It’s a fun learning time.

How do you get them to sit still?

When we first started read aloud time, I didn’t. I would (and still do sometimes, especially for the youngest) get out Legos or blocks or crayons and coloring books and paper. Kids often learn better when they’re moving in some way. And honestly, how many three year olds are going to sit quietly for 15 minutes and concentrate on hearing a book with no pictures? Now my four year old will gladly sit beside us, listening to find out what happens next. (Seeing a love for reading grow makes me excited. πŸ™‚ That’s my goal!) If I finish my breakfast or lunch before the kids, I’ll often pick up our book and read a little until they finish eating and are ready to play. Even then, I sometimes let the younger ones get down and play around the table while I finish reading the chapter to the 4 year old. Just because they’re moving around doesn’t mean they aren’t hearing or learning anything! Don’t stress over a two year old not wanting to sit still for a lengthy story.

Side note: We usually also read a short devotional and/or a chapter from Proverbs at breakfast and talk a bit about them.

How long do you read at a time?

As long as time, our routine, their attention spans, household duties, and the baby allow! Usually we read one, and maybe a half, at a time if we are reading during the day, and one chapter if we are reading at bedtime. When we first started, I often only read a page or two. It has increased as their interest and attention spans increased. It is not meant to be a boring lesson or a stressful thing for any of us. Mainly, the goal is to have fun learning and grow a love for reading in my kids!

*This article contains affiliate links. Ordering through these links would greatly bless our family, but will not affect your pricing!*


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100 Books in August

It’s back to school time! Although we didn’t take the summer off, we did drastically slow down our schooling schedule. We plan to ease back into it, and to get us started I’m challenging myself and my kiddos to read 100 books in August! I made us this fun little sticker chart to track our progress and help us reach our goal.


If we do reach our goal by the end of August, we will be doing a fun family night of pizza and putt putt golf. Being that my oldest is only 4 and just now learning phonics and reading, I’ll be reading them the books this year. I’ve also decided that while I want to include as many different books as possible, my kids will be choosing the books most of the time, so I know I’ll be reading several books multiple times. I do plan to share some of our reading here though! If you would like to join in, link back to here on your posts and/or follow me on Instagram and include the hashtags #mommythezookeeper and #100booksinAugust. I’d love to see what books you and your children are enjoying!

Leave a comment telling me what your reward will be at the end of the month.

Be sure to click HERE to print out your own sticker chart too!


Filed under books, homeschooling

A few good books

It’s probably no secret, I love to read. I definitely didn’t do enough of it last year though. I think I finished 2, maybe 3, books? Maybe it was 4. I’m not really sure, but I know the last several weeks, I’ve been glued to a book most nights while I waited to win the war with my children over bedtime. I’ve shared a few quotes from some of them on Twitter and Instagram and had several ask what books they came from, so I decided to compile a short list of some of the most recent books I have read or am currently reading. One of the books I started a couple of years ago (and sadly still haven’t finished!) suggested moms could benefit from, as often as possible, choosing books that were both interesting, but also encouraging or educating. While I do enjoy reading fiction, I’ve found that over the last few years, my heart hasn’t been in it as much. So, without further explanation, here are a few reading recommendations for those looking to start out the new year with a new book.

Tender Mercy for a Mother’s Soul: Inspiration to Renew Your Spirit
book coverΒ  By Angela Thomas
Β  This was given to me by a good friend, and I’ve read it in full twice and also read bits and pieces here and there just because I love it that much. Lots of helpful insight and encouragement all in one little book. I’m beginning to think the best books by moms for moms are the shorter ones. Those are the moms/authors that get it, and understand that I do not have time to read a lengthy book in a short amount of time anymore, and I will get annoyed and discouraged by that fact if I try.


Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches
book cover for Loving the Little YearsBy Rachel Jankovic
Another book that was gifted to me that I am oh, so thankful for! As a mama of three tinys and one on the way, this one was very encouraging. It’s also another short book that packs the good stuff in without taking up lots of extra pages a mom of little kids doesn’t have time to read.








Three Decades of Fertility
By: Natalie Klewja, Carmon Friedrich, et al.
I came across this ebook through the blog of onebook cover of the authors and it immediately piqued my interest. I finally bought the Kindle version of it just a couple of weeks ago, and I am really enjoying it so far. Each of the authors does a good job of being very real about life and pregnancy as a mother of many and how God has blessed them and taught them amazing things through letting HIM have control over every aspect of their lives, even the very private part that our culture tells us to take control of.


Life Interrupted
By Priscilla Shirer
9781433670459_cvr_web-1Β  Another one that I am currently reading. This was also a gift from a friend. Really, my friend Heather magically finds way more reading time than I have and she has awesome taste in reading material. I adore this book for so many reasons. I’ve already gifted a copy to someone else, and I haven’t even finished it. This is a great book for anyone dealing with big or small “interruptions” in their life.

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