Yesterday (and this morning) we are having a homeschooling book and curriculum sale in our home. It was an enormous effort dragging all this out of corners, bookcases, and boxes, and then sorting it. The photos here show only a portion of what there is/was, and I wish I had gotten better photos of some series that have already gone.
We had over 1,400 books out for sale. The living room was filled with history sorted by time period. The kitchen was chock full of science, in bins of books on the counters and drain board, and lab equipment, chemicals, and glassware in the middle of the room. The dining room had geography, fiction, and curriculum. Parenting books were on our stairs. I have culled stuff before and hauled them to group curriculum sales in the past (see here and here), but this is the first (and last!) time I’ve sold homeschooling materials out of my home.
I imagine we will be taking whatever is leftover later today to donate to our Newtown Library sale. The house will heave a big sigh of relief when these are gone. This will give us some wiggle room to update our home for our current, empty nested life.
I kept our art books, our poetry books, the kid’s favorite chapter books, a huge amount of picture books, our “Landmark” series, our “Five-in-row” books, our “Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out” series, some classics, and our favorite authors (like Thornton Burgess, David Macaulay, d’Aulaires, G.A. Henry, Diane Stanley, Genevieve Foster, Rosemary Sutcliff, Gail Gibbons, Rhoda Blumberg, Jim Murphy, Geraldine McCaughrean, Cheryl Harkness, Charlotte Mason, Susan Wise Bauer, etc). One bookcase will come down altogether and I’ll get to put a painting on the wall!
What I’ve realized doing this is that the pioneering days of homeschooling are over. Because there are so many more homeschoolers now, most have moved to a co-op, or a-group-hiring-teachers-model, where the parent signs up their kid for a patchwork of classes here and there. We definitely outsourced for some things like swimming and music lessons, ceramics and computer programming, but I was responsible for the bulk of the content until later in high school, when they were independent learners in formal coursework we signed them up for. But the people that came to our sale don’t seem to be doing that so much anymore.
My favorite customers were kids. There were a pair of kids who lit into our extensive collection of Zoobooks and bought them with their own money. There was the sweet little boy that sat right down and entertained himself quite pleasantly looking at Robin Hood, while his mother browsed. And a little five year old girl (who had five brothers and who I had never met) looked at me wide eyed, perceptively taking in every detail of my house. “You are an artist,” she said with awe-filled wonder. “You like to paint! I like to paint too.” It was like a black person never having seen another black person before. We bonded instantly. She treated me like a total rock star and it made my day. I hope she remembers she’s a artist when she grows up! I wanted to know her forever.
A neighbor showed up at the door and James answered, a little confused to see him there because he was out of context. This man runs a organic landscape business so they have chatted about that over the years. The man, taking in James’ expression asked if the book sale was today, and as it turns out, this is their first year homeschooling; they’ve taken his kids out of school and we didn’t know until the internet network put us together.
There were comments from parents like they wished their homeschooling coop teachers would come and buy this stuff. I was surprised, because to me, homeschooling was all about taking both initiative and responsibility. I researched materials and cobbled together expansive, customized curriculums for each kid. So when at this sale I heard, “Oh I don’t read aloud to my kids,” I was stunned, because that was the backbone of our whole homeschooling life for so many years, and we loved it. We used to regularly hold newcomer teas (see here and here) to help along those starting out, and to have a mom’s night out for support. That is not happening any more. These new moms, it seems, sign their kids up for things and leave it at that.
All this has made me realize that I have so much experience in these matters that needs to be shared. We carefully cultivated readers and life long learners, with good materials, interesting experiences, and field trips. So I have decided that I will be posting more of our favorite kid’s books on occasion here on this blog to help you parents and grandparents out there to know what to get in the hands of your children. This is so basic, and it is important beyond what you might imagine.
But first, I have bookcases to reorganize, and a lot of books to schlep and donate. But if you are local, come by this morning!
Note later in the day: I just wanted to jump back on here and say that our experience today was much different. We sold a lot more to fewer families who looked at everything carefully and were taking the initiative and responsibility I hadn’t seen yesterday. We talked a lot and it was fun. And we were delighted to sell all of the lab equipment to someone that is really excited and delighted to use it. Very satisfying all around.
Here are the end game statistics: 685 sold at this book sale, 641 donated to the Newtown library sale, 92 listed on eBay.