Building a classroom library doesn’t have to be expensive. I started building my classroom library my first year teaching, and I was broke. I didn’t have money to put into it. I knew that it was important, so I had to get creative. Within two years, I had hundreds of engaging, high interest books for my students, and you can do it too. Here are some ideas.
Grants are the best way to get brand new books. I’ve had huge success online with Donors Choose. Many communities and local education associations offer grants as well. Apply for them all. You might just discover you’re a natural grant writer.
Title I Resources
If you work in a Title I school, there may be additional options for free books. My school is near a Feed the Children store, which provides supplies, including new Scholastic books, for free to teachers in Title I schools. There are currently five of these stores around the United States. Some book retailers offer steep discounts to Title I teachers as well. Ask your administrators about local Title I offerings.
Friends and Family
Many of my friends and family members are readers and love to pass along books. When I began teaching, my nephews were the same age as my students, and they passed their books on to me. I also had friends who read YA lit and would donate their books to my classroom. Ask around. Your loved ones would love to contribute to your classroom, but they may not realize they can help.
If you're on Facebook, search for local Buy Nothing groups. The Buy Nothing group in my city has grown considerably in the last few years, and parents are always giving away books after cleaning their kids' bedrooms.
My birthday is close to Christmas, and I run out of ideas when people ask me what I want. I started asking for gift cards to bookstores. Now, my parents give me bookstore gift cards every year. I pick out YA books that I want to read and add them to my classroom library when I finish them.
If you are purchasing books, you can still get a good haul without spending much. Check your local public library for used book sales. Shop at thrift stores and garage sales. You may find some amazing deals. This is also an environmentally friendly option.
It may take some time to build up your classroom library, but it's worth the effort to provide your students with books. A classroom library is just one more way we can encourage our students to read.