I'm thrifty and put together an order of 13 books for just under $25: a five-pack of Beverly Cleary's Ramona books, a five-pack of Magic School Bus books from the Scholastic Reader series, and a three-pack of Flat Stanley books.
I stick to a basic book order buying plan of a mix of "one-sitting reads", chapter books, and something popular that she can relate with her classmates about reading. I know that sounds a bit doofey for me, but I think that having some of her reading be titles or series popular with her classmates helps her socialization skills. The school librarian is great at keeping me up-to-date on what's popular (because libraries : me :: crackhouse : junkies) and I let Laurel pick out whatever she wants when we go book shopping as a family, so I think my book order buying plan works well for us.
Back to the story, a classmate of Laurel's came over to show us what he got and tell Laurel what he got was better. (This isn't a character judgment, it's just what he does.) For nearly twice the cost of what we spent, he got just two items: a My Pod Storybook & Personal Music Player (part of the Reader's Digest "book and player" format, it's a ROM player) and a large-format picture book that came with 3-D glasses.
I think this explains why I never see any books when I've visited their home.
After that, I thought "I bet that explains why their fifth grader displays reading skills at a second grade level." I know there's more involved that I don't know about, but it makes me sad that they have a huge big-screen TV as the primary piece of furniture in their living/diving area and no books in sight other than the mom's textbooks and a few religious titles. What's there for the the kids to read? (I'm not suggesting that the Bible's not good, just that it's scant variety for recreational reading.)