Summertime is a great time to restock and refresh your classroom library. I want my classroom library to always be up to date with what students want to read. At the end of each year, I go through my library and pull books students are no longer reading. I haven’t actually done this since June 2018 due to the Pandemic and teaching online.
As I head back into the classroom this fall, I’ll be changing schools. When I packed up the classroom at my previous school, I left a lot of books because, let’s face it, moving books is not easy! I only packed a few boxes of books, so I definitely need to find some new books to restock my shelves.
Unfortunately, my funds for buying books are not as unlimited as my excitement for shopping for books! Here are a few places I look for high-interest, relevant books my students will want to read at prices I can afford!
Library Book Sales
If you are looking to fill your shelves fast, this is the way to go. Libraries are constantly refreshing their shelves with new books and they sell the older books for a fraction of the original price. I don’t worry that the books are a few years old, as long as they are relevant and students still want to read them, I will purchase them for my classroom library.
I live near a big city and each year their library system holds a HUGE summer sale of books they’ve pulled off the shelves. They were unable to have the sale last year due to the Pandemic, so I’m super excited for their sale at the end of summer this year. The picture below was my haul from a few summers back.
Throughout the year, I will occasionally stop by Goodwill stores and I can usually find one or two books for a reasonable price. But…did you know that Goodwill stores will sometimes hold events for teachers? It doesn’t happen often, but when they hold their educator events, you can get several bags of books for FREE! At the last Goodwill educator event I attended, they had an entire room full of books to choose from. You were given two grocery store paper bags, if you could fit them in the bags, you got the books at no charge – they weren’t that picky about fitting them in the bags. All I had to do was show my school ID to prove I was an educator and left with two free bags of books!
My best friend can not pass by a garage sale without stopping, so I learned early on in my career that I can stop by a few large family garage sales (or moving sales) during the summer, I can get great books for less than a dollar!
Donors Choose is a great organization that helps connect people who want to help educators with educators that need supplies for their classroom. If you are looking into this option, be sure to check with your district to see if there are any restrictions or forms that need to be completed. Some districts in recent years have started restricting what you can ask for from Donors Choose, so check first.
Scholastic Warehouse Sales
Scholastic Books occasionally host warehouse clearance sales. You can get new books for 50% off and often find books as low as $2-3. I have purchased sets of books for book clubs for less than $20 per set. An easy way to keep refreshing our book club options. These events are held in person in some locations but you can also check their website for online purchasing.
Parents want to help the teachers in their child’s school get the supplies they need. Depending on how active your Parent club is, there is often a way to request funds from them for classroom supplies. Some years I’ve been able to submit a list of books for the parent club to purchase and other years they’ve denied the request because they are using the funds elsewhere. I recognize that not all schools have an active parent club, but if your school does, it never hurts to ask!
“Parents want to help the teachers in their child’s school get the supplies they need.”
This one admittedly takes a little more time and effort, but local organizations are a great way to find additional funds for your class. I know several teachers who have written and received grants for hundreds of dollars to purchase books. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or small business organizations to see what grants they offer.
Each year we have a Meet the Teacher night a few days before school starts. We are encouraged to have a list of supplies that parents can donate if they wish. Most teachers add items such as pens/pencils, Kleenex, etc.., but another teacher on my team suggested asking for books. To make it easier for parents, I placed the names of a few titles on sticky notes and laid them out for parents to take if they wanted. I don’t get many books this way, but it provides an opportunity for parents to support my class.