I wish there were really good public libraries here in the Philippines, or even just one in the city where we live. I feel this lack every time I read about a wonderful children’s book and it’s very expensive or not available at all at the local bookstores.
I do buy from Amazon.com for those hard to find gems, but it can be expensive when my list is making my husband’s eyes roll in disbelief.
What’s a book-loving mama to do but accept hand-me-downs and buy used books? I like to think that I’m saving a lot of money when I buy a pre-loved book, so I buy a lot (wink!). Two hundred pesos for two to three books is definitely better than two hundred pesos for one (or half).
But not all pre-loved books were loved equally. I keep three basic guidelines in mind when deciding to keep a pre-loved book:
The inside pages should be very clean
Scribbles on the inside pages are a big no-no. I don’t want to give my kids the idea that they can write on books.
The binding is still strong
There are some books that look like the pages are about to fall off. I put those back on the shelf, knowing that it won’t be a good addition to our library.
The markings on the cover, if any, should be acceptable
I personally find a signature or a dedication acceptable on the inside cover of a book. It adds charm and makes me wonder about the book-owner who had the heart to give away or sell a book so lovingly given by Grandma, Your Best Friend, or Miss Burns.
Once I’ve hauled my loot home, I set to work to make my pre-loved books well-loved again:
I wipe the cover with a damp cloth
To get out the dust, I simply wipe the book’s cover and edges with a slightly damp cloth. Baby wipes are handy when you want to see if the name scrawled with what seems to be permanent marker can be removed.
I cover unsightly marks with sticker label
When the writing on the book cover is too unsightly for my taste, such as a child’s uneven handwriting, I cover it up with a personalized sticker label with my children’s name. Voila, the former owner is erased and I’ve made the book ours.
I wrap the books with plastic sheet
I have always associated plastic cover with text books. I was surprised to find that it works wonderfully with our pre-loved books. It makes the books cleaner and sturdier, I just make sure not to put tape on any part of the book. The cover of the out-of-print Yellow Ball by Molly Bang is flimsy and looks worn. It now looks like we will enjoy it for several more years.
I hope this helps in your role as librarian/custodian of your children’s books! What are your rules when choosing pre-loved books?