When I first started teaching, I packed up a box of my own books. I took them to my new classroom and unloaded each book onto the shelf. I thought about the memories I had with each book and hoped that my students would also develop reading lives and memories through these few books that I’d be able to bring into our room.
Those books were checked out and borrowed until there weren’t anymore. I think I only had about twenty-five books on the shelf at that point. I knew I needed more, but obtaining them didn’t seem easy. I’m jealous of those teachers who receive a library with their classes. So lucky!
Fast forward four years and now I’ve got over 600 high-interest books for my students to borrow.
Here’s how I did it:
Donor’s Choose: Donor’s Choose is an awesome website that allows teachers to post project requests. Donors then choose projects to fund. This is a really great way to add books to your library (or get anything else that you think will improve your instruction or your kids’ learning experience). Dave Stuart Jr. has written some really top-notch guides to getting the most from Donor’s Choose.
Students: My students know how much I adore my classroom library, so when I ask them for any used books they no longer want, they know I’m serious. As a bit of incentive, I provide rewards for the class that donates the most books (lunch party, extra points, etc). Also, I invite students to decorate an index card with their information and graduation year as a means of leaving their mark on the class. I use packing tape to place it on the inside cover of the book they donated.
Book Love Foundation: If you haven’t heard of this foundation, then you are missing out! Penny Kittle’s foundation gives away classroom libraries every year. It’s an amazing foundation and I am so blessed to have been a 2016 recipient. I spent so many hours over the summer finalizing my list and selecting high-interest books that I just knew my students would love. If you want to apply, go to the Book Love website and fill out the application. You need to gather a few letters of recommendation. Apps are due on March 1, 2017 for the current cycle.
Libraries and Book Stores: This is an obvious one, but check and see if your library has a sale section. I once scored a bagful of books for $5. Book stores can also be a great alternative.
I’d love to hear where you get free/cheap books for your kids. Any great ideas?