While not exactly on vacation in Idaho, I have a little free time to read or to look for book bargains for the English Department back home. Since I will have to mail purchases (media mail at the US Post Office), the books must be a hard to find titles and/or be in excellent condition at extremely low cost to qualify as a bargain out-of-state. In a short time, I found many bargains at the Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Stores, with several books selling for as little as $.25.
According to the web site, The Idaho Youth Ranch is a non-profit corporation that services troubled children ages 8-18 by providing “long-term residential care to young people who are traumatized by abuse and/or neglect or an adverse experience, and as a result, this trauma interferes with their ability to control behavior and manage emotions. The program is based on an early intervention model to help at-risk youth who are in the beginning stages of behavior problems. The sliding fee schedule, coupled with donor-based support, accommodates youth and families who are not served through county or state-funded programs, and/or can’t afford the cost of care.” The program began working with children in 1957 and currently has three residential homes.
The thrift stores are part of a network “located throughout Idaho to provide substantial revenue, work opportunities, and goodwill for The Ranch and its nearby citizens and communities.” I shopped at three locations:
- 1417 Main Street, Boise
- 3840 Chinden Blvd. Garden City
- 250 N. Orchard, Boise
All three stores were well organized with cheerful staff who were quite chatty as I checked out. Books were separated by genre in each store, and in the N. Orchard location, the fiction books were alphabetized by author. All three stores had impressive children’s picture book collections.
Visiting the Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Stores, I picked up 28 books altogether for the department’s libraries, and I left a copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with my niece. There were three copies of The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, two copies of The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and a copy of The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien for grade 11. The retail price at Amazon for these six texts alone would be $68.98; the entire cost for 28 books purchased at the Idaho Youth Ranch Store? $29.25. The best find? A brand new copy of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote for the Advanced Placement Language class for $1.50.
What is most interesting about finding donated books is speculating about the communities that have used books for sale. In many ways, the reading communities of Boise, Idaho, are very similar to reading communities in the western part of Connecticut. There must be some common interests to see the same titles offered in thrift stores separated by 2,500 miles. More likely, there must be common reading assignments given to students from coast to coast.
Back in Connecticut, Wamogo High School has an agricultural program which offers equine classes; many of our students own their own horses as well. The Idaho Youth Ranch Thrift Stores support a horse program for the students who attend school at their ranch. The website notes that, “An important adjunct to therapy and a regular part of the school day at The Ranch, residents learn about all aspects of life with horses–from grooming, feeding, and tack to animal psychology, biology and riding. Classes are held on breeding and care of a horse. Residents experience ‘hands on’ training in foaling, imprinting, and halter breaking, as well as preparing young foals for sale.”
The books that are going to Connecticut were donated to support a horse program for students in Idaho. My horse loving students will be happy to know that.