Host a Book Swap

Piles of old books at the flea market
book swap summer learning activity

Reading offers timeless benefits, making it an excellent activity for any season. It can help combat learning loss, enhance critical thinking and vocabulary skills, provide insights into a variety of topics, and nurture socio-emotional skills and empathy. It’s also a perfect quiet activity for children, especially when parents need to focus on tasks like work calls or meetings.

Hosting book swaps can be a delightful and educational activity throughout the year (here are some fun tips). Consider organizing a neighborhood book swap as a way to bring your community together. It’s a great opportunity to declutter bookshelves, engage with neighbors, and share the joy of reading. Our family had a great time preparing flyers, gathering books, and interacting with friends on the day of the swap. I’m happy to share tips on conducting a successful and enjoyable book swap right in your front yard.

For more creative and educational activities to enjoy at home with your children throughout the year, be sure to check out our main page, “Charter a Summer of Learning.”

Set Up a Book Swap

Start by deciding a date and time, whether you will accept adult and children’s books, and how many people you want to invite. I highly suggest encouraging people to drop books off early—it made the day of the swap much easier!

book swap table

I choose for my swap to be from 10 am–5 pm on a Saturday. You may decide on a shorter swap but because we had nothing else to do, it was a fun way to occupy an entire day. I also choose to include all books and invite everyone I possibly could.

Ask children to select books they are willing to swap. You may be surprised by how many books you have that they have outgrown! Do the same if you are including adult books. My daughter got so excited as she went through her bookcase that she made a book swap T-shirt!

Miriam made a book swap T-shirt of James and the Giant Peach book cover

Kids can use their artistic skills to make signs by hand or on the computer. Canva includes lots of free templates to easily make nice-looking fliers.

Managing a Book Swap

The day of the swap, have the kids help moving the books you pre-collected. It’s a good little workout! Make sure you space the tables out so there is plenty of room.

space out tables for book swap in front yard

Once everything is set up, you can sit in some comfortable chairs in your yard or porch and wait for guests to come by. Then it’s a day full of friends, neighbors, and books! My family had the best day of quarantine so far as we talked literature with old friends and met new ones.

Carly Friedman book swap

Lastly, consider what you will do with any leftover books. We are going to donate ours to little lending libraries in our neighborhood and SAReads when they open back up.

Charter Moms Chats

Watch Carly Friedman’s interview with Inga Cotton on Charter Moms Chats.

For more ideas about summer experiences you can do while learning at home with your kids, visit the main page, Charter a Summer of Learning.

About the Author

Carly Friedman is the Pre-Health Professions Adviser at St. Mary’s University and an avid reader. She updates her goodreads account regularly. She has two children, Miriam and Sam, who also love reading, riding their bikes, and interrupting mom’s Zoom meetings. Would you like some book recommendations from Carly? Email her!