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Reading Is Fundamental -- for Your Wallet

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Stumped for party favor ideas? Give the gift of reading -- for as little as $2!

mom and daughter reading book

Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: Our big summer party -- where I usually try to give away favors that are the kind I would like to receive -- is over. When the kids were younger, the favors were often sand toys, because most times they would only last a season and we always seemed to be using and losing ours. As the children got older, we gave school supplies
-- a composition notebook with some fun pencils or zipper pouches with cool supplies tucked inside. Every year, the children choose a charity to which attendees donate in lieu of bringing gifts. This year, they chose a charity that provides children with their first books -- and so for favors, we let each child choose a book to take home. First, let me say that I refuse to spend more than $3 for a favor, but this was not as much of a challenge as you would expect.

I started by checking one of my favorite sites for value-priced books -- I went to the kids section and selected the "under $3" search. They had a ton of great stuff, but I put a lot of hardcovers in my cart and shipping was too high. I couldn't find a free shipping coupon online, so I moved on. I checked and, but neither one was having a particularly good sale. I then went to and saw that shipping was free if the order was over $25. I went to the bargain section, selected "juvenile fiction," and set the results to display from low to high. Unbelievable -- tons of Roald Dahl and the Judy Blume "Fudge" paperbacks for $1.77! "The Secret Garden" and Hardy Boys mysteries in hardcover for under $3! These books retailed from $5.99 to $16.99. I knew I had a winner, so I searched for online coupons and found a bunch of codes for $10 off $50 purchases. I then reentered the site through a cash-back portal, so I could get some extra savings. I had such fun browsing the books in my price range. Besides the ones I had already seen, I found the series Encyclopedia Brown, The Great Brain, and some of Nancy Drew. For the younger ones, there were "Corduroy" and "Ferdinand the Bull" with accompanying CDs, a Madeline activity book with window clings, and a hardcover "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!" I bought a nice selection, more than I needed, so the kids would have a choice and I would have some for gifts throughout the year.

I also took a peek at the 99 cent store and found a paperback historical fiction for kids that looked good and an incredible hardcover nonfiction about the Old West with great illustrations that retailed for $22.95. I did the math -- and realized that after coupons and cash back, my average book price was $2.00. It was such a pleasure seeing the kids so excited to choose their books. Some even started reading on their way out the door.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous September 18, 2009, 4:23 AM

Thanks for this article. I’m always looking for good deals on books for my kids. I had tried Borders and Barnes and Noble and never had much success with their prices. I usually end up ordering from the Scholastic flyers my 1st grader brings home. Nice to know where else I can shop for great books at a great price!

Johnie Herkstroeter December 17, 2010, 8:52 AM

Great blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

Vijaya February 25, 2011, 1:45 AM

I have been using price comparison sites like for buying my textbooks. It is better than going for standalone stores. As you can save on lot of money using them.

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