One thing that seems to discourage many parents from the Charlotte Mason Method is they believe that it is an expensive way to homeschool. This couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many ways to provide a Charlotte Mason education on a strict budget.
Many of the books that can be used in your Charlotte Mason curriculum can be found in your local library. In general, many of the books are considered “classics” so they should be easy to find. Also, if you belong to a homeschool group, you may be able to find others in your group who use the Charlotte Mason method and would be willing to loan books to you that they are not currently using. Try setting up a Charlotte Mason group book exchange to help keep the flow of books going.
You can also purchase some of the books that are used in several years through ABE Books. ABE Books is a great network of book resellers, so you can find used books at a much lower price (usually) than new. Also, I use Amazon for a lot of the books that I will use on a regular basis, just because in general a new book will handle the wear and tear much better than a used one. In addition, there have been several times where I have been able to find a new book at Amazon for the same price or even lower than a used book. So be sure to check both ABE Books and Amazon before you make a purchase. I have also had a lot of luck getting books for my personal library from public library sales (many libraries will have a book sale once a year as a fundraiser) or at thrift stores and garage sales.
Since many of the books are classics, they are ones that will have been in personal libraries for decades, and if they are not actively using them, may be wiling to part when them. It’s great because usually at libraries, thrift stores, and garage sales I am able to purchase hard cover books for much less than paperback prices (usually just a dollar or two each.) And hard back books tend to last longer and look better than paperback.
Reading Books Online
Since they are classics, many of the books used in a Charlotte Mason education can be found online. I use this method for a few of the harder to find books, however, to me, having a child sit in front of the computer to read takes away some of the great benefits of having them actually hold and read a book. My daughter loves to do her lessons outside when the weather permits, something that you can’t do with a desktop. (Even with a laptop, there is something about having your child unplugged from the computer and holding an actual book in their hands that just seems to be a better approach in general!)
You can also get audio of many classic books online that you can download to an mP3 player. This is a great way to add variety to your homeschool day and give your child the chance to listen to someone else read to them which helps to develop their listening and comprehension skills.