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GUEST POST: Building a home library by Crystal Wagner

Have you dreamed of having a room in your home filled from floor to ceiling with books? Imagine oversized comfy chairs in front of a fireplace and a ladder that rolls along the bookshelves. You can sit and read to your heart’s content next to the crackling fire with a mug of tea to sip.

While this dream will not come true for most of us, we can build a home library to enjoy. And it does not have to break the bank.

I know I could borrow books from the library and not spend money on purchasing them, but I love actually owning books. I love being able to loan a favourite book to a friend, pull an old favourite off the shelf to read, and encourage my children and their friends to browse the shelves to find old and new favourites. Plus, I love physical books. We do own digital books and audio books, but there’s nothing quite like opening a physical book and inhaling the scent. (If you are a bibliophile too, you know what I mean.)

Identifying books to include in your home library

The first step in building your home library is identifying the books you want to include. You are probably limited in how many books you physically have space to store in your home so you need to make choices about which books you will purchase. I use the following factors when deciding which books we will purchase and which books we will borrow.


If a friend is raving about a book, I will give serious consideration to adding it to our home library. This is especially true if I think it is a book my children might read, now or in the future.


Just like seeing an old friend, we love re-reading favourite books. This is easier to do when you own the book.

Book quality

Having character building and twaddle-free books available for my children to read is important to me. I want to fill their minds with ideas and their imaginations with pictures they will ponder and keep with them forever.


I prefer to purchase the books we will use in our homeschool lessons. It can be a challenge to request a book from the library and have it available when we are ready for it. And, we usually need to keep it longer than the checkout period allows.

Purchasing books for your home library

Before you start purchasing new books for your library, I would suggest you clean out and organise what you currently have. Before I organised our home library, I often bought duplicate copies that I then had to sell or give to friends. It took a summer to get organised, but we are still reaping the benefits! (You can read more about how I organized our home library.)

Once you have identified the books you want to purchase and know what you currently own, you are ready to start building your library. Purchasing books new can be quite an expense. I only buy a few books new for specific reasons such as not being able to find it used, special features included only with a new purchase, or a special edition copy. If there is a book you would like to purchase new, consider placing it on a wish list for grandparents or friends.

I purchase everything else used. Used book stores, library book sales, and thrift stores are a great place to look for books. I do not go expecting to find specific books, but I always find some great buys. It is helpful to know the names of authors and book series you and your children enjoy. If you are just getting started building your home library and need suggestions of books, here are some to get you started:

If I want to purchase a specific used book, I usually start with Abe Books. Most books on Abe Books are less than $5 including shipping. The book listing indicates the quality of the used book. So far, all listings have accurately described the condition of the book. You could also look on Amazon Used Books.

You may never have an amazing room with floor to ceiling bookshelves and a ladder that rolls along the shelves, but you can have a home library that provides your family with hours of reading pleasure. What will you add to your library?

About the author:

Crystal Wagner, Triumphant LearningCrystal Wagner believes learning is not confined to a book or “school hours,” but is a lifestyle that positively impacts generations. She helps homeschool parents learn practical ways to simplify homeschool planning, make learning fun, and disciple their children. You can learn more about Crystal at


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