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Recycling Children's Books

My annual spring-cleaning event includes asking my children a big question: Do you have any books we can give to other kids?

Their initial, and predictable, response is always something like, “Mom, I love all my books!” Each child insists they read every book in their room.

Kids can become very attached to their things, including books. If you find it a challenge to make room for new books on your child’s bookshelf, try talking about it in a new way.

For example, if recycling is a family value, start the process of weeding out your child’s book collection by discussing the idea of giving new life to books by passing them on to people who will find a new use for them. Rather than letting old books your child never reads collect dust on a bookshelf, you can give the books to children who will read and treasure them.

You can share your love of books and teach your children the joy of giving to others by donating your gently used, favorite books to a local organization. Some groups only accept donations of new books, so call first before donating. Most public libraries accept used books. Each library determines whether they will use the books in their collection or sell them at fundraising events. Schools, prisons, hospitals, homeless shelters, thrift shops, and community fund-raising rummage sales are also places to recycle gently used books. If a book is damaged or unappealing, place it in your recycle bin instead of donating it. (For hardbacks you’ll need to rip off the cover first.)

Swap meet events with a group of children are a fun way to recycle books. To host a swap meet, first invite children to bring gently used books to a gathering place. Give each child a card with the number of books they brought written on it. After all the books are on display, invite the children to choose new books. Each child can take home the same number of books they brought to the swap meet.

Another way to recycle favorite books is by giving them to a new baby. Choose some special books that were favorites when your children were young and put them in a nice bag. Each child can write why they enjoyed the books on a special card.

Recycling books is a great way to encourage reading at home and in your community. Your child passes on a book to a child who wants to read it, and makes room on their shelves for new books that they can’t wait to read.

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