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.
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.
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.
What a terrific and useful idea for a blog post. Just this week, my library was adopted by J C Penney in the Adopt a Classroom program that you mentioned. I simply applied with a brief description of my library programs and viola! Awarded! I also write grant proposals for local credit union grants and receive $500 to run my Texas Bluebonnet Bookclub based on our state award nominees. Scholastic and Barnes and Noble book fairs are the backbone to keeping my library strong and replenished. Money sits waiting to fund worthy classrooms and libraries. It’s time we put those funds in action.
Thanks so much for sharing Julee! Gret resources!
You forgot one other option – make them.
Excellent point! Yes, indeed making books is a terrific idea. Thank you!
As an author, I can tell you if you ask your local authors they will usually donate their books to an entire classroom. I just spoke to a high school in Bountiful, UT and we gave away a bunch of books. We love getting our books into the hands of students. 🙂
Wow! That is fantastic Tyler! I never thought to contact the authors. Thanks so much!
I have asked authors for donations of damaged (slightly wrinkled covers) books that cannot be sold. It works!
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Great post and resource. I learned some great ideas. Checked out your post too!
Thanks very much Patricia!
I enjoy buying a new book everytime. There´s nothing better than smell of a newly bought fresh book. And for the record I admire you for the effort you´ve put in finding ways of providing students with new books. Great job.
I also LOVE the feel and smell f a new book. Thanks Jay!
Thank you for writing this and for mentioning Donors Choose! Just to let all public school teachers and librarians know: Donors Choose has raised over $200 million for public school needs. Teachers, grab your pens and let potential donors know what your students require that your budget won’t cover. You will be amazed at what people will help provide!
I love Donors Choose. I have received so many books from generous donors. It is an amazing organization! Thanks so much!
1) Used book sale at your school. Have parents bring in books they no longer want. Ask parents to also donate to teachers.
2) At book fair at schools, have teachers make a bin of books they want so kids and parents can buy to donate to their classroom.
3) Library Gift Program. Our school has a program where parents donate $15 and the school librarian buys a book. The book gets a plate from the donor and the child gets two weeks with the book before it gets checked out by the rest of the school. The PTO runs this.
4) Online book fair to raise money for books for library.
Great ideas! I really like #2. I had never thought of this before. Thanks for sharing these.
Sometimes if my budget is running dry and there are a lot of books I still want, I get the principal to sign a “do not exceed” PO and order what I need used on Amazon or Abebooks. (I pay up front, but then I get reimbursed).This works best when what I need is not the latest bestseller, but something to fill a specific need. I got a beautiful like-new copy of Raptors of the World to fill a reference need for about $20, a fraction of the price. I just bought several volumes of Spanish Language poetry, all side-by-side Spanish with English translations, to support a collaborative project between the Spanish and English Language Arts teachers, all similarly discounted, all in excellent condition. Works for me.
I agree about the Scholastic Warehouse sales. I am always surprised at what a good selection they have.
Be cautious about used book drives. Our PTC held one without talking to me first, and I got an enormous amount of stuff, about 2/3 of which ended up in the trash or at the local thrift shop. I really, really appreciate the thought and the good books I did get, but in the future I will make it very plain that there are guidelines to what I can shelve, and even within those guidelines, if I have 5 copies of a book already, I will redonate it.
Excellent points made here Anne. Thank you!
Another good inexpensive book site is http://www.betterworldbooks.com. Also, I love to look for free books under the free section on craigslist. I’ve gotten quite a few good books off of there.
Ooh, I have never seen this site. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!