6 Ways to Build Up Your Classroom Library on a Budget

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If you want to encourage early literacy, having an inviting and well stocked classroom library is essential. Carving out a corner of your room devoted to relaxing into a good read can prime early learners to become lifelong bookworms. It can though, be both costly and time consuming. Check out these 6 ways to build up your classroom library on a budget!

*Guest Post by Kaz Weida

Wishing you had diverse, well stocked classroom library? Check out these 6 ways to build up or update your library on a budget!

6 Ways to Build Up Your Classroom Library on a Budget

If you are anything like me, you may have inherited some well-worn titles from previous teachers that are now dog-eared and ripped, or your budding readers may have already exhausted your thin collection and you need fresh material to keep their interest. Chances are you already blew through your budget earlier this year, so the prospect of new titles for your classroom library may seem daunting. Here are 6 resources for free or heavily discounted titles that can salvage your library without breaking the bank.

1: Literacy Programs

There are quite a few literacy programs out there, most of whom offer support to districts that have a higher percentage of low income students. Check out the following sites to see if you qualify for some free books for your classroom library:

2: Grants

Many organizations offer grants for educators looking to supply their classrooms with books.  Check out the following sites to see the requirements. If you’ve never written an application for a grant before, I recommend connecting with other teachers in your school. Often times they can supply some great tips.

3: Bargain Books

If you’re looking for specific titles or to add some new classics quickly to your classroom library, you may need to invest a few dollars wisely. The following retailers offer deeply discounted books and a few combine those discounts with affordable pricing for educators

A special word about Amazon. You can search for deals in books a few ways, including going to the “bargain book section” or their “deals in books” tag or even “blowout books” or “goldbox deals.” Keep in mind that while Amazon doesn’t offer a teacher’s discount (yet), they do allow educators to utilize the same free prime membership that students enjoy.

4: Scholastic

Scholastic has been a great resource for teachers looking to earn some free titles for decades. Most teachers are aware of their circulars that provide points towards free books for every title purchased. There are, however, a few other ways to maximize your dollars at Scholastic.

  • Warehouse Sales – These events happen periodically around the country, so check the site often for an upcoming sale near you.
  • Scholastic Reading Club – When you join up as an educator, you’ll get information about discounts, advanced sales, promotions, and contests.
  • Book Club Bonus Points – If you want to understand how to earn bonus points and how to use them, check out the book club page for more details.

5: Second Hand & Local Options

I’ve provided these resources in the order that I would advise working them. You’ll notice Ebay is right at the top. I suggest buying large lots of children’s books if you are just getting started establishing a classroom library. You can get hundreds of gently used titles for a dollar a piece, and then explore other options to fill in the gaps in your collection.

  • EBAY: Focus on buying lots and stick to paperbacks to save on shipping.
  • Craig’s List
  • Thrift stores (Salvation Army, Savers, and more): Many thrift stores, like Savers, have discount days so sign up to receive advanced notice of book sales.
  • Savers
  • Salvation Army
  • Local or online classified ads
  • Varage Sale
  • Garage/Yard sales
  • Library sales

6: Solicit Donations

Sometimes, when you need a helping hand, you just gotta ask. Here are a few options that might inspire support and keep your students well supplied with reading material for the rest of the year.

  • Ask your principal. It’s possible there a few stray dollars from the budget that could be thrown your way. You’ll never know unless you ask.
  • Partner with other teachers. Perhaps start a book drive where students can bring in the gently used titles they’ve grown out of and donate them to other classrooms where they could be put to good use.
  • Ask parents. You can simply make it known that you’d like some titles for your library in lieu of appreciation gifts or other donations. You can even create a wish list on Amazon and post it to the classroom blog or website. Having a book fair soon? Some schools advertise what titles teachers would like from the fair and give parents the option to purchase them.
  • Donors Choose. This site allows you to post your needs and then helps you obtain support from your own network and theirs to reach your goals. The site claims that 75% of teachers who register with them get their projects fully funded.

I hope these resources bring a bundle of new interest and spark your students’ imaginations. Enjoy and happy reading!

Kaz Weida is a SAHM and freelance writer based in Salt Lake City. She’s a serious bibliophile, obsessed with trees and a staunch believer that coffee can cure most of the evils in the world. She has decades of experience in education and behavior management, but still finds herself saying things her mother said like ALL THE TIME. She writes about parenting failures, baking, and revelations that come years too late to be useful over at her blog, A Sweet Little Life.

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One Comment

  1. I have been messaging garage sales and offering to pick up left over books as donated and have had very good luck with this. After a sale people just want things gone and happily donate for other children to enjoy!

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