It’s no secret that most public school teachers struggle with funding supplies for their classrooms. When money is tight, it becomes harder to do things like stocking the classroom library. If you’re a teacher, follow these tips for the easiest ways to stock your classroom library without breaking the bank.
Why Classroom Libraries?
People sometimes wonder why classroom libraries are so important in public schools. The reason is many kids don’t have access to books at home, either because their parents can’t afford them or they don’t see the value in buying books.
Decades of research show that reading skills are intertwined with writing, communication, and a veritable host of other life skills. Encouraging a love of reading at an early age is crucial to a child’s success in life later on.
What Kinds of Books Do You Need?
The books you stock in your classroom library will vary depending on the grade level you teach, but it never hurts to include books both over and under the average reading level. Here are some ideas of what to look for:
- Picture books
- Chapter books
- Graphic novels and comics
- Illustrated history and science topics
- Abridged or illustrated classics
Ask for Donations
If you don’t have the money to buy books yourself, see if you can encourage other people to give you books for free. Here are some places to try asking for donations.
At the beginning or end of the school year, you might consider holding a small classroom book drive to see if parents and guardians from your students’ families will gift you books. At the start of the fall, you can pitch the idea as a way to build up the classroom library for the coming year. In the spring, you can frame it as a paying-it-forward event to help improve the lives of the next class of students.
Another way to get books as gifts is to set up a wishlist on places like Amazon and make this list available to your students’ families. Parents and guardians may gift you books around the holidays or your birthday.
Many communities have organizations that love helping out local teachers. You might try talking to some of the religious communities in the area or non-profit groups to see if they would like to partner with your classroom. You may find one that will let you put up posters around the building, speak at a meeting, or even get a featured post on their social media accounts.
PTA Book Drive
Another tactic to get book donations is banding together with your fellow teachers and asking the PTA to host a book drive. Larger events may draw bulk donations from local businesses in addition to the school’s community. Then, the PTA can divide these books among the teachers to expand their classroom libraries.
Try Out Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a popular way of supporting creatives and other people who provide services for others. Teachers have caught on, using sites like GoFundMe to get monetary donations for buying classroom supplies.
If you decide to set up a crowdfunding campaign, make sure to promote it widely on social media. Don’t be afraid to tag celebrities, authors, and other people who might help you promote your cause. For example, author Neil Gaiman regularly retweets teachers on Twitter asking for classroom donations. All it takes is someone sympathetic to what you’re doing.
Apply for Donations
Lots of charities supply teachers and kids with books for free. All you have to do is fill out an application and wait to see if they select you. Kids Need to Read and Half Price Books are two places with such donation programs.
Buy Books for Cheap
Not everyone can afford to spend money on a classroom library. If you can, here are some ways to get more books with your funds.
Used bookstores and resale shops are fantastic places to find used books for low prices. To get an even better deal, pay attention to any color-coded stickers on the books and wait for the right color sticker sale (e.g., a blue sticker equals 70 percent off).
Garage and Estate Sales
Buying books at garage and estate sales is another easy way to stock your classroom library. Check the local newspaper for upcoming sales to know when such events are happening, and try to get there as early as possible. Sometimes, you can even call ahead to ask if there will be books for sale and what kinds they are.
If there aren’t a lot of good garage sales in your area, you might consider taking a road trip to another town or neighborhood. Just make sure to go on a weekend when there are lots of sales so the drive is worth it.
There are lots of places online that sell books directly to teachers. Scholastic has a teacher store that sells books at a discount. Another organization, First Book, sells discounted books to teachers in underprivileged communities.
Sometimes, you can find people selling books in bulk on websites like eBay and Craigslist. They might be former teachers themselves or people whose kids have outgrown their childhood libraries.
Setting Up Your Library
Sometimes, used books aren’t in the best condition when you find them, but don’t let that discourage you! ChromaLabel has a wide selection of binding tape for books that will allow you to make even the most worn-out books functional again.
We have cloth-style and clear tape that won’t obscure the book’s cover. We even offer special tape for everyone’s favorite gold books for children. ChromaLabel’s book repair tape uses non-acidic glue that won’t damage books like other glues.
When setting up your classroom library, it can be helpful to color-code books based on their reading levels. Scholastic has a well-known system for organizing books by grade using the alphabet. You can help students quickly identify the books at their reading level with ChromaLabel’s colored dot stickers.
We hope this list provides you with lots of ways to stock up your classroom library. Try out a couple of different strategies to see what works best for you.