Providing a literature-rich classroom environment is important to ensuring student success. Variety, in both genres and reading levels, is essential. However, as all teachers know, the onus of stocking that classroom library is firmly on the teacher herself. While families busily gather supplies the week before school starts, the average classroom teacher has been busy all summer gathering supplies – including the library books that will keep students engaged and excited about reading all year long. The cost of stocking that library is no small expense and without some of the free and low cost ideas that follow, it would be nearly impossible to provide students with a classroom library that is well stocked.
How to Get Free and Low Cost Books for the Classroom Library
1. Garage Sales
Summer is the perfect time to scout out yard and garage sales to supplement your classroom library. Look for sales that advertise children’s items, as they frequently have children’s books on sale, as well. Teacher Brandi Forman swears by yard sales: “When I would ask about buying all of the books at yard sales people would always ask why. A lot of the time they just gave me the books or sold them to me very cheap when I said I was a teacher.”
2. Library Sales
Call your local library and find out when they are having their next book sale. Many libraries periodically sell off books in their collections to make room for new titles.
3. Scholastic Book Orders
Scholastic Book Clubs give students and parents a chance to bring home new titles, but they also reward teachers with bonus points that can be used to purchase books for the classroom. Those monthly book order points add up quickly, so browse the fliers and pick out the titles that you think will benefit your students the most.
4. Thrift Stores and Goodwill
Most thrift stores get a ton of donated books. In fact, most get so many that they have a designated day of the week when books are on sale. Contact your local thrift store to see if they have sale days and if they offer teacher discounts.
Teacher Reta Troxell suggests asking families for donations of books for the classroom library. “Lots of times parents will send in books from their personal libraries that they are willing to donate. I got my whole collection of Dr. Seuss books that way,” she explains. Make a request at the beginning of the school year and then throughout the year in monthly newsletters or on your class blog.
DonorsChoose.org is a website that allows teachers to request items for their classroom. Donors then decide which projects they want to fund. Many teachers have had success in requesting books for their class libraries. Teacher Dawn Hart agrees, “I’ve gotten sets of books free from generous donors and it was truly a blessing!”