If you want to encourage a love of reading in your classroom, you will need a wide variety of books. Finding those books is not always easy and your wallet can take a big hit! Here are ten ways you can add books to your classroom library.
I did my student teaching in a first grade classroom, but my first job was in a fourth grade classroom. I am not joking when I tell you that I walked into my first classroom with less than 20 books for my students. I turned immediately to Scholastic Book Clubs for help and I sent out book orders every month. In the beginning I used my own money on top of bonus points to slowly build up our reading shelf.
Our school also had a Scholastic Book Fair twice a year at conference time. Teachers could make wish lists and families could choose to donate books. These books even came with a special sticker on the inside cover with the name of the family who donated the book. Kids loved seeing their name in our classroom library! I have also learned to watch the Scholastic Teacher Store for sales and discounts!
Since building the classroom library was a slow process, I turned to our school librarian for help. My students were able to check out books every week, but so was I! I could check out stacks of books at one time and make these available to my students for in-class reading. Our school was also fortunate to have a book room. This was where I could find multiple copies of books for my reading groups.
Just like the school library, your community library is often very teacher-friendly. Don’t be afraid to reach out and use your maximum allotted check-out each week (or month)!
The online community has also opened up many doors to our readers. There are both free and subscription sites available. Not only are online books a fantastic resource for research, they can be a tremendous support for struggling readers. I use Storyline Online a lot! This is a great tool when your voice is drained or when you would like your students to get a second read of a book from a different voice. Our school was also fortunate to have a subscription to Reading A to Z. I know my daughter’s teachers have used both Epic and Tumble Books through their school subscriptions with great success, too.
Used bookstores can be a great way to get a lot of books for very little money. The books are still in good shape and you can find a variety of titles. Be sure to shop around because some of these bookstores are better than others.
Like used bookstores, you can find a lot of books without spending a lot of money. Unfortunately, finding a garage sale with children’s books can be difficult. Even when children’s items are advertised, you can spend a lot of time driving around only to find that another teacher has gotten to the books first.
Teachers are a great source for books. If you know a teacher is retiring or changing grade levels, don’t be afraid to ask if they are purging any of their classroom resources. I gained over 50 chapter books from a fellow teacher who was retiring in my building!
At the end of the year, I always let my students know that our classroom is a great place to donate books from home (with parent permission, of course). Because you have already established a relationship with these families all year, they see the benefit of donating books to a classroom they know will use them rather than a bigger donation site. You can also let families know that they can make donations to your classroom for the holiday in lieu of gifts.
Amazon or Other Online Bookstores
When I don’t have time, I use Amazon Prime! This is my favorite way to get my hands on all of the new books that I want to read to my class. I also check the used books to save some money. These don’t get shipped with Prime, but they still arrive in a timely manner and are in good condition.
I will be completely honest with you – I’ve never created a Donor’s Choose project, but I know many teachers who have. If you’re just starting out in the classroom and need to build your library, you should definitely consider creating a project to be funded. Just make sure you check with your principal or school district to make sure this type of funding is allowed.
After more than a decade in the classroom and building my own collection to over a thousand books, I continue to look for new books my students will love. I hope these ideas will help you build your classroom library!