Friday, July 2, 2010

How to Grow Your Classroom Library for Free/Cheap

For the summer months my "Featured Friday" posts will be "Frugal Fridays" because I have so many $ saving ideas I want to share and there just are not enough "Thrifty Thursdays" to do it in. So....

Today's Frugal Friday tip is: How to Expand Your Classroom Library for Little or No Money!

You know I am all about having a Clutter-Free Classroom, but there is one exception.


Pictured: 30 Brand New Leveled Library (levels F-O) - Only $1.66 a book!!!! Click here to purchase!

When it comes to books I say, “the more the merrier.”

Having a large, organized classroom library is very important so that your little friends may constantly be reading literature that is at their level and of interest to them. Below are some ideas for inexpensive ways to grow your collection.

Things you can do now. (FYI now=summer)

You know the first thing I’m going to tell you to do is to visit my online store. If you haven’t stopped by yet, check it out. It’s like an online yardsale for teachers and parents. I have several bins of books to add. There’s a good amount of new and used books to pick from and I always charge exact shipping at media mail rates (translation: cheap shipping).

Yard Sales: Tell them you are a teacher. That should get you a good deal on the spot. Print up cards with your name and email/cell phone number. Ask them to contact you if they have leftover books that they would like to donate.

Craigslist: Try posting an “I’m a teacher and need books” request and keep your eye out for others who are posting books.

Freecycle: If you aren’t familiar with freecycle be sure to check it out. It’s basically an online group of people who give things away for free.

Pictured: 30 Brand New Leveled Library (levels A-C) - Only $1.50 a book!!!! Click here to purchase!

Beg: Send an email to everyone you know or post on facebook that you are looking for books, ask people to spread the word.

Paper Back Book Swap: I did an entire post on this site a few month's ago. You can read it here.

Ebay: When it comes to ebay, I’m sort of a hater. It’s become more of a hassle than it’s often worth, but you can get lucky. Search for “lots” of books. Narrow your search by a maximum amount per item. Watch the shipping cost.

Goodwill: Places like the Salvation Army are often great spots for finding books. They are hit or miss so don’t go out of your way, but if there is a location nearby then check it out.

Write a grant: Time consuming, but often worth the hassle.

Things you can do later (meaning when school starts again)

Send a letter home with older grade levels and ask the kids to donate books that they are now too old for.

Beg some more: At the end of a school year contact retiring teachers and let them know you would be interested in “purchasing” their library. They will often donate it to other classrooms.

Barter: Offer to exchange some tutoring time for books that a student has outgrown.

Propose a Merger: My teaching partner and I have decided to combine our two libraries for the upcoming school year so that the kids have a greater selection of books. We have neighboring classrooms so we have moved our shelves to the area next to the connecting door.

Scholastic: Scholastic offers some great deals on books as well as special offers occasionally (i.e. 50 books for 50 bucks). You can also do well with their bonus points. Stay tuned on this one. Scholastic is a blogpost all on it’s own and I will soon (as in this weekend) be explaining how to really benefit from using their program. Check out my sales boosting kit.

PTA/PAC or Whatever it is Called At Your School: Request that your school's version of PTA purchase specific books for your classroom to accompany an author or genre study.


Anonymous said...

I also wanted to mention to check out your local libraries "Friends Bookstore." I am a children's librarian (aka teacher looking for a classroom) and our Bookstore is always having a lot of great deals. Buck a Bag Book Sale - You buy a brown grocery sack, fill it up, $1! Everything from picture books, non-fiction, audiobooks and videos. Last week we just had a special on children's picture books - 5/$1.

Not always in the BEST shape - but will do the job :)

Jo said...

All great ideas, and all ones I have utilized in the past as a reading teacher. I managed to "grow" a classroom library to well over 1000 books in one year doing this -- it would have cost me three times that (at least!) to purchase them the traditional way.

Miss JoAnne said...

Look for a Goodwill clearance center. The one in my town sells all items by the pound. Books are 25 cent a pound. The quality of the books are hit and miss but I have found a lot of great things including teacher resources.

Donna said...

Another source of books is This is a cool site where you can chat with sellers online. So, if a seller has book lots listed, and perhaps you want some books out of each lot, but not the whole lot, you can chat with the seller and negotiate. You can pay securely through PayPal, Google Checkout, and Money Order.