Let me start by saying that the size of your library does not define you or your classroom. As teachers, we all want big, beautiful classroom libraries but that’s hard to do on a small, not so beautiful salary. It’s taken me years and years to build the library that I have now and it’s hands down my most favorite part of my classroom. Here are some tips for building your classroom library without breaking the bank.
Goodwill – A very large part of my classroom library was built with trips to Goodwill. They usually have a good selection of books and they’re constantly adding to it. Generally, the prices are pretty inexpensive (I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $3 for a book) and they’re always having sales on different colored tags.
Yard Sales – Yard sales are everywhere in the summer months! Books don’t have a very high resale value and it’s pretty easy to negotiate prices at a lawn sale. Your best bet would be to scope out the sales ahead of time and get there as early as possible.
Facebook Marketplace – This is an easy way to build your classroom library without much effort. Keep an eye out for posting on your local Facebook Marketplace. Like normal yard sales, you can usually negotiate the price…especially if you tell them you’re a teacher!
Donations from Families – Do you send a newsletter to families in your class? Add a paragraph that lets families know you’re trying to build your library and to keep you in mind when they’re cleaning out their bookshelves!
Holidays – Books make great gifts! If there are specific books that you’re wanting for your classroom, put them on your birthday or Christmas list! I’ve put books on my birthday and Christmas lists for over the last ten years and I’ve been able to build a really nice collection of “teacher books” in my classroom. The books I ask for are usually read alouds that stay on the shelf behind my desk but I do let kids look at them if they ask.
Scholastic – Scholastic usually has a big promotion in the fall and it’s a great time to score new titles for your classroom. Unless the families in your class place a really large order, you’ll have to pay for some out of your own pocket but you usually get A LOT for a little. Also, don’t forget to talk up the book order every month! Let families know that when they place an order, they’re supporting the classroom through bonus points. You can then use the bonus points to order more books!
Social Media – Just like with your classroom newsletter, share a paragraph on social media that lets your friends/family know that you’re trying to build your classroom library and would love to take gently loved books off their hands. Also, let them know that you’d appreciate them sharing your post. They may not have any books to donate but their friends might!
Amazon – Did you know that Amazon sells used books? Obviously, they sell new books too but I don’t always love their prices. The used selection doesn’t always qualify for prime shipping but the shipping cost is usually around $3-$4. I recently got lucky though and was able to score a like-new replacement copy of one of my favorite books for $5 with prime shipping! Buying new would have cost me almost $20. It takes a bit of work to find the deals but it’s a great way to build up your library!
If you’re in the process of building your classroom library, I hope you found these tips helpful!