Don’t, and I mean DON’T, just buy all the books for your classroom library at full retail value. I know the pressure is there from looking at gorgeous book shelves on social media or even when peeking at your neighboring teacher’s classroom. There are a few tips and tricks that teachers use to build up their library shelves, whether its for independent reading, book clubs, or First Chapter Fridays.
Before we get on with tips, remember that most classroom libraries are accumulated over the course of years. Don’t feel pressured to have a full and complete library from the very beginning. I started collecting books when I was pre-service, for example. Here are a few tips you can use to purchase your classroom library:
Thriftbooks is a great option for teachers looking to buy books at a discount for classes. They have a variety of new and gently used discounted books at an awesome discount.
When I first started out, going to Goodwill and Salvation Army was a great way to find books. Goodwill also has days where you can get books as low as .25 each on certain days. Like any second-hand shop, you will need to inspect the books to make sure that they are in good condition and have all pages.
Book Outlet is similar to Thriftbooks. It is an online outlet store for books, with books going for as low as a dollar. This is a great option, especially if you are looking to grab a class set of books for a novel unit.
Donors Choose can be controversial. Sometimes schools will allow you to take the materials you get from your projects, some schools will insist on retaining ownership of the materials (it’s also in the fine print of Donors Choose). Some schools have even gone as far as banning teachers from funding their classrooms with Donors Choose. Make sure to check in with your administration to see if they allow you to create a Donors Choose campaign to fund your classroom library.
5. Local libraries
This is your sign to make friends with your local librarians. Libraries often get rid of books for free or have a bin at the front of books you can take for free. Connect with your community’s library and see if you can sign up for emails letting you know when they are looking to give away books for your grade level.
First Book is a non-profit organization that provides new books and educational resources – for free and at low cost – to schools and programs serving children in need. If your school is a Title I, Title I eligible, or if at least 70% of the student body at your school receives free and reduced lunch you qualify.
7. Amazon Wishlist
Think of a teacher Amazon Wishlist as a baby or wedding registry for teachers. I post my wish list on my social media with a message about some of the fun and educational activities I am planning for the year.
Kids Need To Read is a 501(3)c non-profit organization that has a book donation program for schools and organizations. While anyone can apply, they encourage donation requests from programs serving adolescent juvenile offenders, high school dropouts, youths living in poor urban or rural communities, immigrant children, kids with learning challenges, or children living on Native American reservations.
9. Book Grants
Book grants are a great way to fund your classroom library. Some book grants you can access are:
- Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries
- Dollar General Literacy Foundation.
- Mazda Foundation
- Believe in Reading
- Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry
- National Book Fund
Better World Book is another site that sells gently used books for a bargain. At the time of publishing this, I found The Hunger Games and various Holly Black titles for as low as $3.98.
Similar to Thriftbooks and Better World Books, Books A Million is an online book store with an amazing bargain bin. At the time of publishing, I found some popular YA titles like Brittany Morrison’s Slay or Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall.
Half Price Books is another option for educators looking to stock up their classroom library on a budget.
Have you used any of the options on this list? Let me know in the comments below or tag me on instagram @yaddysroom