Giving our students access to great books is critical to helping them grow as learners and readers. I believe that a classroom library is as important to a classroom as the kitchen is to the home—it’s the heart or central hub of what brings us together. Building a classroom library can feel overwhelming, especially if you are a new teacher or a teacher with a limited budget. While it takes a little work and creativity, building a classroom library on a budget is totally doable and summer is a great time to work on it!
Here are 5 tips that I have used to grow my library from a few well-loved books to a classroom library overflowing with quality, high interest books that excite and engage my learners.
(1) Yard Sales/Library Sales—Yard sales and library sales allow you to get books for mere pocket change! Keep an eye out for yard sales with kid’s clothing or toys and you’ll usually find great children’s books. You can look up local library sales for your area online. Be sure to try to go on the first day for the best selection of books, but also don’t miss the last day when many library sales have a fill a bag deal for as little as a dollar or two.
(2) Asking for Donations—Don’t be afraid to ask for gently used book donations from families and friends. Many people are overjoyed to go through their home libraries and donate to your classroom.
(3) Used Book Stores—Throughout the summer I like to stop by our local thrift stores to check out the latest additions to the children’s book section. You can get so many great used books at second hand stores and some stores, like 2nd and Charles, also offer a teacher discount on all books purchased for your classroom library with a valid teaching ID. Online stores, like Amazon and Ebay also have a great used books that are sometimes half the price of a new book.
(4) Scholastic Book Clubs—Sending home Scholastic Book Club orders each month not only gives your families access to quality, affordable books, but it also helps you earn points to use towards getting free books! Whenever the Book Box arrived, it felt like Christmas in our classroom. Thanks to our book orders, I was able to get hundreds of great books for free into the hands of my kids each year.
(5) Throw an Usborne Book Party—I was introduced to Usborne books two years ago and fell in love with their books! The best part is that when you host a party either online or at home you’ll earn lots of quality books. They have books for all ages and some great non-fiction selections too. My first graders love the Shine-a-Light series!
I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many books! Building a classroom library on a budget may take time and creativity, but it is well worth it to see our kids have access to a variety of quality books that will allow their love of learning and reading to grow. If you are interested in finding book suggestions by grade level, check out Pearson’s Connect to Books site which lists book suggestions by grade and topic. It also shares some of the books reading levels, which helps teachers so much!
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