If there’s one thing our family has an abundance of, it’s books. Nearly every room in our home has a bookshelf in it, and most of them are full. Reading is not a “sometimes” activity in our home. It’s an every day activity.
Part of the reason for that is that Sarah and I are passionate readers, period. We’ve both been avid readers since early grade school, with barely a day going by without a significant reading session. Books teach us things, they entertain us, they make us think, and they force us to consider our world in new ways.
Another big reason is that, frankly, reading is an incredibly inexpensive hobby. Libraries are giant buildings chock full of books that they’re happy to give to you, provided you return them in a reasonably prompt fashion. If you must own your own books, there are many, many secondhand bookstores, plus wonderful services for cheap book trading like Paperbackswap.
Reading is a winning hobby all around, and it gets even better when you have a family.
Every single night, at bedtime, we read our children three picture books as well as at least one chapter from a longer book. This is a powerful calming bedtime ritual that also sticks the idea in their head that reading is what people do, reading is fun, and reading can teach you things and tell powerful stories.
Virtually every day, Sarah and I spend some time reading in the presence of our children, and we encourage them to look at books at the same time. None of them can really read yet, though our oldest can piece through some books, yet they still do it as an act of imitation. They look at the pictures and make up stories about them, if nothing else.
Many days, we fill a lazy afternoon by curling up on the couch with a big pile of picture books and read them together as a family.
Once a month or so, we take an outing to a public library, giving everyone a good excuse to browse through lots of books and, best of all, take one or two of them home.
Books and reading are a significant part of our family life, and it’s a part that costs us almost nothing at all.
Many of the books we read were checked out for free at the library. Many others were picked up for a pittance at book sales or yard sales, or were given to us as gifts. Sarah and I both have Kindles, both of which are loaded with books from the public domain. The cost of these things is almost nonexistent, yet we have access to more books than we ever have time to read.
The best part for me, though, is those moments when I have my children crowded around me listening to a story. We work through the words on the page, make crazy voices for the character sounds, and make guesses as to what will happen next, even if the book is a familiar one. It’s incredibly inexpensive, it’s fun, it’s intellectually stimulating, and it’s one way to form a deep bond with your children.
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.