What to do with outgrown books?

13,10 and 3 - and each of them need a different book to read.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is about dealing with outgrown stuff – especially books and toys. For more info about my book Homemade Kids with lots of ideas about parenting, click here.

Nell, 10, has been on a school trip to Swanage all week – orienteering, abseiling and camp fires were some of the highlights. It’s been strange without her at home, but gave me the chance to tidy up the bedroom she shares with her sister. We have a bunkbed and a cabin bed so that it is easy for a friend to do a comfy sleepover. However both girls are such bookworms that their room is more like a library after a crowd of wildebeast have run through it.

On Wednesday I put all my work on hold in order to sort the books. The result is fantastic – you can see the floorboards. I’m even considering renting the house for the Olympics now... More importantly I’ve had a chance to shunt around the books so that the ones Nell is now a bit too old for (eg, the Rainbow fairy series, Horrid Henry and Yuck – all staples of Year 4 and 5) which can be stored for younger cousins and friends.

Big sister Lola at 13 has lots of books to pass on to Nell, but probably not for two years so her collection of Nick Hornbys, Cherub series, worn-out Vampire books and a lot of murder mystery and fantasy creature books (many bought at car boot and table top sales) are now packed and labelled into £7.99 tupperware containers cannily parked under the bunkbed.

Tidy up time
As the girls get bigger doing a big clear up is a less frequent task. Remember when you had a baby and had to pack away the outgrown clothes every few months? Life definitely gets easier as your children get a little older. But if you are still in the pre-primary and primary stage here is a great tip about toy and book swaps sent to me by Friends of the Earth’s tip of the day email service.

If you and your friends have children of a similar age, why not consider
swapping a selection of your kids’ toys with one of their friends, for a
month or more? It will give your children some great new things to play
with, at no extra cost to you or the planet. An added bonus is they’ll
probably enjoy their own toys much more when they get them back.

For more practical advice, competitions, quiz and discussion forums where
you can pick up or suggest other tips see: http://www.foe.co.uk/living/

Sounds such a good idea, I wonder if adults can do something similar with box sets and kitchen luxuries like breadmakers and smoothie machines?

Over to you:
When you tidy up a kids’ possessions, what do you think is worth keeping for the next generation – and what are you willing to give to charity shops? Or do you always use e-Bay? Please add a comment with your ideas as I need helping knowing how to part with favourites like Dogger, Mog and many, many others…

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