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. When I walked into my first classroom, I had 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!
Once you join their mailing list, be prepared to receive ALL the flyers. You don’t have to send them all to the recycling bin, though. Here are some ways to put those Scholastic book order flyers to use in the classroom.
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. If you want to support a local bookstore, but don’t have one in your area, be sure to check out Bookshop.
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!