Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Top 5 Ways to Build Your Classroom Library

The most important thing in any literacy classroom is its library.  Nancie Atwell, my reading guru, says that we shouldn't think of it as having libraries in our classrooms, we should think that we're creating classrooms in libraries.  Research resoundingly points to the importance of having a sea of books readily available to kids - and how much more readily available does it get than right there in your room?

If you're looking to begin or expand your classroom library, it can be a daunting - and expensive - proposition.  But, after accumulating more than 3,000 books in my library, I have some tips and tricks for making the process easier and more affordable.

1.  Scholastic book orders.  You remember them from your own childhood - the thrill of the box arriving, the feel of the smooth, never-opened cover in your hands.  Well, Scholastic is just as good now as it was then.  And when your students order, you accumulate points that you can spend on books for your classroom!  There are a few ways to really make Scholastic work for you, though.  First, try to place a really big order at the beginning of the year.  Scholastic often doubles or triples your points with that first order, so the more you order, the more points you get.  Second, be sure to tell parents about the online ordering option.  I've found that parents tend to order more when they order online (don't we all?).  Next, if you have money to spend, Scholastic books are a double whammy, since you're getting super affordable books AND earning points for yourself.  And, last, if there are teachers in your school who don't order from Scholastic, see if you can distribute flyers to their students. 

2.  Library book sales.  Our local libraries have annual book sales, usually in the summer months, and you can often really stock up.  Our children's section usually has paperbacks for 50 cents and hardbacks for $1.  Contact your library to see when they're having their sale, and plan to get there early on the first day to get the best stuff.  Also ask if they provide boxes or if you'll need to bring your own.

3.  eBay.  My second year of teaching, I tripled the size of my library through eBay.  The best way to get books through eBay is to buy books by the lot.  Search for a series or author, and you'll find people selling lots of books together.  Set yourself a limit - I said I wouldn't spend more than 37 cents a book - and start bidding!  Don't forget about shipping charges.

4.  Goodwill.  Goodwill is a great place to stock up.  You'll want to check back often, since they have frequent turnover, and check out all of the stores in your area; some will notoriously have better selections than others.  Don't forget to check your store's sale schedule - once a month mine marks all of their books half off, and it's the perfect time to load up.

5.  Donations.  Let the kids and parents in your class know that you love to get gently used books.  Some of my current students will bring in books they no longer love or that they've outgrown, and I'll pick out the ones I like and share the rest with other teachers.  I'll also have parents, years down the road, show up with bags of books for our classroom.  It's always the best surprise.

So, those are my top 5 ways to build up your classroom library!  It's the best money and time you'll ever spend - and you'll absolutely love it.

1 comment:

  1. I've used all of these choices! Also the PTA at my school gives us $100 a year to get books from the book sale. And at the end of the school year (and the beginning) a lot of teachers put materials in the cafeteria that they don't want anymore, and I picked up a lot of books that way. Garage sales are also great. The bad news is some of my behavior students like to tear up my books when they're melting down. ! It is heart-wrenching to watch!