Ten Ways to Get Books for Your Classroom or Library by Gigi McAllister

Do you get the same feeling that I do when a new box of books arrives? I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get a box that I know contains books my class has been waiting for.  Well, kids are no different. Kids are nerdy just like us and they LOVE getting new books.  Providing books in a steady supply throughout the year is one way to help maintain student motivation to read.

Like many of you, I like to make sure I have some of the newest releases in my class library so I am constantly trying to add to my collection. Along with most other teachers, I spend way too much of my own money buying new books and replacing my old worn-out favorites. With dwindling or nonexistent budgets for classroom libraries, and without breaking your own wallet, how can you get more books for your students?  Well I am here to share some ways that have worked for me.

Shop Smarter

1. Library Sales

Most public libraries have book sales.  Library patrons are constantly donating their used books to the library.  The libraries hold on to them and have a big sale!  You can get books for a steal. My library sells books for $.25-$.50 EACH! Sometimes you can pay to shop the night before the sale opens and get first crack at the treasures.  Plus, your money is going back to support the library.  Contact your local library to see when they have their library sales. You can also go to Book Sale Finder and click on your state.

2. Yard Sales

Most homes with kids will have children’s books at their yard sales. You can get some real gems by digging through a box of old books. I have purchased books such as Sarah Plain and Tall, Holes, and Island of the Blue Dolphins at yard sales.

3. Browse Resale Shops

Large chain resale shops such as Goodwill or Salvation Army usually have a book section.  Again, you need to examine the shelves closely, but I usually find at least a couple of books I can use.  Children’s resale shops often have kids’ books for sale as well.

4. Scholastic Book Clubs

Yes, those colorful flyers that kids just love.  These book clubs offer new and classic titles at GREAT prices. Better yet, you get points toward more books with each parent order (and even more points if parents order online).

Here are some other fairly inexpensive books sites: Book Warehouse   Book Outlet (formerly Book Closeouts) and  Teacherwide

5. Scholastic Warehouse Sales

All of those wonderful Scholastic books are stored in big, beautiful warehouses throughout the country.  A couple of times a year, they have customer appreciation sales and open their warehouses to school staff, librarians, volunteers and basically anyone who is involved with kids. Typical sale times are mid December and May.  They offer books at HUGE discounts.

Even better, you can sign up to volunteer at these sales.  In exchange for your time, you get $ toward books!  I have volunteered for several years now and I get tons of books for my class (and my own kids) this way. Click here to find a Scholastic warehouse near you.  You can sign up to volunteer by signing up for an event and scrolling down to the bottom of the form.  Check off the box indicating your interest in volunteering.


I am not above asking (or begging) if it will put books in the hands of my students.  Here are some ways you can tap into other resources.

6. Parents Donations

Let your parents know that you are interested in taking gently used books off their hands.  They are usually happy to give them to a good home.  I have a label that I use to indicate the book has been donated and I put the student’s name on it.  Students love it when other students read a book they have donated.

7. Online Donation Sites

There are several donation sites online where donors can donate money.

I have had great luck using Donorschoose.org to get books.  I submit at least two projects each year and they have always been funded.  Be sure to notify your students’ parents and your own families and friends when a project is posted to increase your chances of being funded.

Although I have not personally used these sites, here are some other online donation sites you may wish to try.  Adopt a Classroom  Classroom Central Class Wish  I Love Schools

8. Wish Lists

Wish lists are not just for bridal registries any more.  Online wish lists work just like registries.  You add books that you wish to have for your classroom, let people know about your list and they do the purchasing.  You can create a wish list on Scholastic, Amazon, Books-A-Million and Barnes and Noble to name a few.

9. Have a School Book Fair

Having a book fair at your school can help you earn books.  You can get more info on books fairs at Scholastic Booktopia Barnes and Noble  Usborne Books  Personalized Book Fairs.  You might also like to read about some tips for hosting a book fair here.

10. Grants

Your PTO/PTA may offer grants or scholarships.  My local organization provided my class with 4 Kindles and $ for ebooks last year after I applied.  It doesn’t hurt to ask.

I have never written a large grant, but here are a few links to places to investigate:  The NEA Foundation  Walmart Foundation  Grant Wrangler A link to grant websites

So those are some ways you can get books for your classroom or library.  Please leave a comment if you have other ways to build your library so we can all benefit.

Gigi McAllister teaches 4th grade language arts and social studies at Great Falls Elementary in Gorham, Maine.  She is in her 21st year as an educator. Since she was a reading late bloomer, she is trying to make up for lost time by reading all the children’s books she can. She is thrilled to have found “her people” in the Nerdy Book Club community. You can visit her at www.thelatebloomersbookblog.blogspot.com and on Twitter at @GigiMcAreads.