10 Ways To Build A Classroom Library On A Budget
Watching your students find a book they love and just can’t put down is incredible. It melts every teacher’s heart.
But finding those incredible books for your classroom isn’t always easy…or cheap. Stocking a classroom with enough books to keep your whole class’ interest throughout the entire school year is a huge undertaking. And on that minuscule salary of a new teacher it might seem impossible.
But don’t distress, there are TONS of people out there who would love to help you fill your classroom library. They want your students to enjoy incredible books just as much as you do!
Here is a list of 10 places to start your search for classroom books. Will a little digging, you can easily find free or inexpensive and quality books for your library.
Ask for Donations
Ask and you shall receive. One of the best ways to fill your classroom library is simply to ask people for what you want. This might be parents, people at church or even your sweet granny.
You’ll be surprised just how many people are excited to give. Some imagine an adorable kindergartner gushing over the new book they bought while others will just want to clear off a book shelf.
Try creating an Amazon wish list for the specific titles you want. Include a link to your wish list in your email signature and blast it on social media. What fun it will be each day a new Amazon order makes its way to your front porch!
Talk to Your Local Librarians
A wise librarian once told me, “New books come out every day. That doesn’t mean we magically get extra room on our shelves. New books come in, old books go out.”
Librarians find joy in a youngster enjoying a good book. More than likely, you can find one willing to help build your classroom library (for free). Start by saying, “I was wondering if you could help me with something…” people love to help solve a problem. Explain your situation then ask if you could get some of the books they need to get rid of.
If nothing else, they might give you a discount at the book sale. If it doesn’t work at one library, just try the next town over!
Local Book Sales
Your library might have an annual book sale where you can get a great deal on books. Other organizations around you might as well.
One local organization to the Toledo, Ohio area offers a special book sale about every month and a half. Books are $0.50 to $1.00 but on the last day you can stuff as many as you can into a bag for just $7.
Check out booksalefinder.com to find book sales near you. Try asking if they give any sort of discount for teachers as well.
Library of Congress Surplus Books Program
The Library of Congress always has surplus books on hand to donate to schools and other non profits to build a library. First, you’ll have to fill out some simple paper work. Then you’ll get the books for free but you will need to pay for shipping.
If you or someone you know lives in the Washington DC area, you select your own books and skip the need for shipping. Get all the details here.
DonorsChoose.org is a great way to get resources for your classroom library or any other school project you might be working on. You can use it as a way to get support from your own community and network or to reach others interested in helping a classroom.
Click here to get the details of how to set start and project and build your classroom library.
Reading Resource Project
The Reading Resource Project is part of the Literacy Empowerment Foundation. Through it, you can get free books for your classroom or any other project that requires books. The only part you need to pay for is a small fee for shipping, handling and administrative costs. It costs $0.88 per book.
The books are for Pre-K through 2nd grade. They are soft cover and come in sets of 100 with at least 10 different titles. This is an awesome resource to help build your classroom library.
Scholastic Reading Club
By creating a Scholastic Reading Club, your class will earn points for every $1 spent on Scholastic orders. These points can be redeemed for books to build the classroom library.
Each month Scholastic also offers bonus points. Usually the biggest bonuses are given in September so make sure to encourage families to jump into the school year with a new book from Scholastic.
Sending home reminders about the sale deadline, putting a link on your classroom website or circling recommendations for the students in the flyer can help to encourage ordering and boost sales.
Craigslist, EBay and Facebook Groups
Use online sale sites to find great deals on books for your classroom. You’ll be surprised to find out how easy it is to get your hands on a retired teacher’s classroom library.
Craigslist, EBay and different Facebook sale groups are great ways to connect with people looking to sell or unload their children’s books. Try searching “lot of…” to find the listings with larger groups of books.
Leave A Book Behind Project
Each year you can encourage your students and their families to add to your classroom library with a “Leave A Book Behind Project.”
This project simply asks families to donate a used book that their child has enjoyed in Kindergarten. The child can then have his or her name placed on the inside on a special sticker or badge. For years to come, other students will see that “Sally Sweetheart” was in your class and loved this book. The kids will love leaving a legacy in their beloved Kindergarten classroom.
Amazon Underground Free Picture Book Apps
Kindles are great technology to integrate into your classroom. They are inexpensive (compared to an IPad) and you can get many great picture books on them.
You can download picture books from the library straight to your Kindle. Also, through Amazon Underground, you can often get free picture book apps. These apps will read the story to the child or allow him to read himself. They also have many interactive features where the characters will move or make noises when you touch them.
We’ve recently downloaded several Bernstein Bear, Little Critter and Charlie Brown books, plus Goodnight Moon, But Not the Hippopotamus and Monster Socks, and many more picture books for free through Amazon Underground. The selection is always changing so check back frequently.
What tips do you have for other teachers trying to build a classroom library? Comment below!