Let’s Go Shopping! Alternative Sources for Books and Homeschool Stuff

In our homeschool we read a lot of books.  I mean, A LOT.

We love using the library, but sometimes they don’t have all the books on our list.  Also, sometimes you need to have books longer than they can be checked out, and sometimes you rack up late fees that ought to give you naming options on the new branch they’re building.  Or is that just me?

Right now, I’m in the thick of hunting for books for the coming year.  I’ve got a long list to fill for our literature-based curriculum, not to mention a few extras for myself (it’s professional development, y’all!).  Maybe you are hunting books, too?  It’s that time of year when many homeschoolers of all stripes are planning, making lists, and shopping for deals on books and supplies, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite online sources for deals on books and other sundries here.  I hope it helps you in gathering your resources!  And if you have some great ones to add, please share in the comments.  Thanks!  🙂

My Owlet reading a book ahead of the curriculum.

My Owlet found some of the books I bought for this fall and couldn’t resist…

Here are some of my favorite online book retailers:

Better World Books — This online bookstore sells new and used books and offers free shipping.  They are socially and ecologically conscious, supporting world literacy and using eco-friendly business practices.  You can have your shipping carbon-offset, in fact, which usually adds mere pennies to the order.  I really like that!  I find that they often have the best prices on used books in very good condition, and I love that my purchase helps promote the greater good.

Book Outlet —  This site carries new books at discounted prices and offers free shipping to the US and Canada.  They don’t always have what I’m looking for, but it’s worth checking if the book is a newish release.

Thrift Books – Orders over $10 get free shipping; packaging is made from 100% recycled materials.  I have found many books on my lists here.

Daedalus Books — This store carries an interesting and changing selection of remaindered books, CDs, and DVDs, as well as a few gift items.  You never know what they’ll have.  I like to browse the catalog to see if I need anything that I didn’t know I needed.

Barnes & Noble — Ok, so admittedly I don’t shop BN online all that much, but there is just nothing like an actual book store, you know?  I’m lucky to have a Barnes & Noble practically around the corner, and I love to go there.  You can walk inside, inhale the aroma of coffee, browse the books, gather up a stack, sit with a scone and a hot cup of tea, and make choices about what you want to buy.  You can get gift ideas.  You can find things you might not have known you’d like.  And did you know that the publishing world (and therefore the book-reading world) needs Barnes & Noble?  Turns out we need to spend some dollars there if we want to have bookstores and books to browse.  They’ll give homeschoolers a free Educator Discount Card, so that helps!  🙂

My favorite online retailers of other homeschool supplies (and some books):

Rainbow Resource — If you don’t already know about their huge catalog, click over now and request one.  It’s free, massive, and very informative.  They review just about everything they carry, making their catalog a humongous series of coffee-talks covering almost everything anyone might want to use in their home school.  If there’s a religious slant, the listing will usually identify that.  Plus you can call and ask them questions — they’re very helpful.  Many times, their prices are lower than Amazon’s prices, so it’s always worth checking here if you’re looking for the best deal.  Shipping is free on orders over $50.

Home Science Tools — When you don’t need to kit out an entire classroom laboratory, it’s nice to find exactly what you want in the quantity you need.

Miller Pads and Paper — This place has blank board game sets, graph paper notebooks in a variety of sizes, and bare books of different styles, plus many kinds of papers and pads that you just can’t find anywhere else.  Add a bookmark for this site.

Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies — This company has a nice catalog of art supplies.  They offer many on-site educational classes and I enjoy seeing the artwork featured in the catalogs.  They make making art feel a little more accessible, especially with their prices.  Shipping can be slow, however, so make sure you plan accordingly.

Blick — With a larger catalog plus a special catalog for education markets, Blick has probably got whatever art supplies you need, including quantities for co-ops and other groups.  They often have sales, and if you’re lucky enough to live near a store, you can go shopping in person and absorb the creativity as you gather your supplies.

Part of our home library - lovely books!

A sample of what it’s like around here!

Looking for deals on curricula?

Homeschool Buyers Co-op — Membership is free, and with it, you can take advantage of group buying.  They organize time-limited discounts on curriculum and supplements, and the offers change frequently.  You’ll need to know what you’re looking for ahead of time because reviews and details (like whether a product is religious or secular) are not their focus; they focus on just the buying.  Check there when you’re in the market for your next curriculum purchase and you might score a deal.

A few last thoughts…

If you’re unsure whether a curriculum is secular, here are some articles that will help you evaluate:

What constitutes secular academic materials?

Why neutral science isn’t neutral — This is very important if you want your kids to get a complete education.

Want to know what we’re using?

I’ll soon be writing about our own curriculum choices for 7th grade (how did this happen??), so if you’re curious, keep in touch!

Meanwhile, I’ve got a ton of books to find.  A ton.  Probably literally.

I can hardly wait!  🙂

Happy homeschool shopping!

11 Alternative Online Shopping Options for Homeschool Books & Supplies


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