A guest post from Steph Loves Honey.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” 

-Dr. Seuss

We’ve all heard this quote and to be fair, never a truer word has been spoken. Research undertaken by The Reading Agency shows that ‘reading for pleasure is more important for children’s cognitive development than their parents’ level of education and is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background. 16-year-olds who choose to read books for pleasure outside of school are more likely to secure managerial or professional jobs in later life.’ 

Facts like that speak for themselves, books are magic right? Just look at Matilda! They can also be expensive, especially if you read a lot and you live in a house full of readers! Here are my top 5 ways to read for free:

  1. Join the library. 

In Gloucestershire, if you join at your local library, you can borrow and return books from any library in the county. Once you’re a library member, you can reserve and renew books online, you can also download Borrowbox and borrow eBooks and audiobooks free of charge. 

Anyone of any age can join, so if you’re soon to be a parent, sign up for a library card when you register your baby’s birth. This also gives you access to Bookstart, which offers free, age-appropriate books that are yours to keep. Our local libraries offer a free, summer reading challenge for older children too.

  1. Free eBooks.

I’m an Apple user and there are so many free eBooks available through the Books app. The book store is organised into easy to navigate sections, one of which is ‘Special Offers and Free’. There are also loads of free eBooks to be found on the Kindle store and if you don’t have a Kindle (I don’t), you can download a free Kindle app. 

If you Google ‘free eBooks’ there are lots of websites offering free sign up or free trials such as ‘read 5 books for free’. 

  1. Book swaps

If you work in an office, why not start a book swap shelf, where people can leave books they have finished and pick up something different to read in exchange. 

Look out for book swaps in hotels and on camp sites too, many holiday makers are glad to get rid of excess luggage (books they’ve finished) and only take home what they are currently reading.

In recent years, we have come across a few phone box libraries and village hall book swaps on our walks. These are often full of great books and provide an ideal distraction for little legs that need a brief break from walking! I have started keeping a lightweight book or two in our backpack, to swap in case we come across one of these.

  1. School bookshelf/library clear outs

If you have children, keep an eye on their school/nursery newsletters for book news. As well as the paid book fairs, many school regularly clear out their libraries and class bookshelves to make way for new books and offer the old books to families to take home.

Some schools have a permanent book swap shelf on site too, where families can take books (for children or adults), keep their favourites and return ones they don’t want to read again. If your school doesn’t offer this, why not suggest it at the next PTFA meeting?

  1. Keep it in the family

Most of my books come from my parents, they pick them up at charity shops and their local steam railway second hand shop and save any they think I will enjoy. They also pass on books to my sister-in-law, as well as donating to charity shops. In return, I pass books their way when I have something they haven’t read and then I pass the books they gave me on to my mother-in-law, or take them into work for our book swap shelf.

I absolutely love children’s books, so that opens up a whole other way to share books for me, as I regularly borrow books from my children’s bookshelves to read myself. Sometimes, this is to read with the classes I teach at work and other times, I read them for my own pleasure, as there are some phenomenal authors who write for children and young adults.

So next time you’re looking for something to read, why not find somewhere to swap, share or borrow a book.