Five Ways to Get Cheap Books For Your Classroom Library

Finding children's books at a yard sale
So, you’ve thought about creating a really nice library for your classroom, but you’re short on cash? Here are five places you can get books on the cheap!

1. Craigslist

Craigslist is a great place to get good deals. I’ve bought lots of books on Craigslist – one time was from a retired teacher who was selling all of her books in great condition for 10 cents each! Of course, in most cases this entails you driving to the seller’s house, so make sure you are careful, take a friend along with you and if the place you are going looks seedy, just turn around and go home.

2. Garage sales

I cannot tell you how many times my sister (who is a school librarian) and I have been to garage or yard sales where we have found incredible deals on nearly-new books. Some of the books didn’t even look like they had ever been opened, and they were all going for 50 cents a book. Check your newspaper, neighborhood flyer, or Craigslist to locate upcoming garage sales near you. The best garage sales are the neighborhood-wide garage sales because you can hit several houses at one time.

Also remember that a lot of sellers are cool with haggling over prices – if you see a book and want to offer a lower price to buy it, or want to buy a group of books together for a discounted price, it couldn’t hurt to ask.

3. Used book stores

Sometimes you can find great deals at used book stores… but sometimes not. It’s definitely worth a shot. Also, sometimes used book stores have sales of up to 50% off their entire stock… those times especially are when I’ve found some amazing deals.

4. eBay

eBay doesn’t seem to seem to have as good prices as it once did, but if you look hard you can still find the occasional bargain. Be on the lookout for books sold in ‘lots’. Those have the best deals overall.

5. Friends, family and neighbors

You might be surprised at how many books I’ve received free simply because I let my friends know that I was in the market for hand-me-down books. When they gave me the books I even informed them that they could take them to the half-off bookstore to sell them or sell them at the neighborhood garage sale, but for them, it was far kinder and less stressful to simply give them to me for my students. Giving away books gives people the chance to clean out their house a bit – books can be bulky! – and I got free books out of the deal, so it’s a win-win situation. Also along these lines, you can have a book swap with some friends or other teachers with children or students of their own. Give them books you no longer need in your school library and get books that would fit in perfectly with your grade level. Again a win-win situation! Plus, refreshing your library gives your students a chance to read some new – to them – literature.

Do you have any other creative ideas about how to get cheap books for your class library? Leave a comment and tell us all about them!

Five Ways to Promote Reading in the Classroom

Getting kids to read
Reading is a crucial part of a child’s educational foundation. Once children learn to read fluidly and are able to retain concepts, a whole new wonderful world is opened up to them. From that point on, they can start to learn about anything they want! Here are five ways that you can promote reading in your school classroom.

1. Share Your Favorite Story Day

Once a month or so, ask your students to bring their favorite books to class. These can come from their own homes, from the school library, or on a Kindle, Nook or another type of eReader, depending on the grade level of your students, and on how secure your classroom environment is. You can give each child a chance to stand up in front of the class and explain the things they love about their favorite book. Encourage the other students to jot down the names of the books that sound interesting to them so that they can find them and check them out from the library as well – or keep a list of each child’s favorite book on the wall of your classroom that your children can refer to when they’re off on a trip to the library. You can even add a colorful chart or graph to show which books are the most popular books in your particular classroom.

2. A comfy cozy book nook

For me, the only better thing than reading a good book is reading a good book curled up in my warm bed! While can’t very well create cozy bedrooms in our classrooms, with some effort we can create a comfortable environment for our students to curl up and read books. You can spread out little shag carpets (samples from a local carpet store could be utilized here), plush bean bags (my favorite as a child!), or huge fluffy pillows that you might be able to find at a discount store. Students can be allowed to read in the classroom library as a reward for being “fast finishers”, while working at a learning center, or for any other good reasons you might be able to come up with.

3. A chartable reward system

Children love working towards a challenging goal, with rewards for hard work and dedication. You can create a chartable reward system where if they read a certain number of books, they earn a reward of some sort. The reward can be as simple as a sticker, extra recess time, library time, or a special bookmark.

Having a chart on the wall tracking the number of books each child has read can create both a sense of competition and a sense of togetherness if your students are working toward reaching a common reading goal. Make sure, however, that you stage your reward system in such a way that rewards are available for all students – those students that are not the fastest of readers and therefore won’t be reading the most books in the class should also be encouraged to participate and earn rewards.

4. Pair story retelling time

My children love giving me the details of the various books they have read. Although it would be time-consuming to let every child get up in front of the classroom and go into great detail about the books they have read, you can pair up the students in your class and have them tell each other information about the various books they read during that particular week. Move kids around from week to week so that they have a chance to chat with a variety of other children about their favorite books.

5. Facilitate a book exchange

Ask students to bring in copies of books they have read and have an exchange program where your students can swap books and read each others’ books. This probably won’t be “for keepsies” so make sure that students write their names inside the front covers of their books before facilitating the exchange. Our students are encouraged to keep library books or books belonging to other people in their backpacks whenever they’re not being read so that they won’t accidentally leave them lying around the house when they’re needed in the classroom.

I hope that that these ideas help to promote a fun and stimulating reading environment for your students! Please feel free to leave comments below about any other ways that you have discovered that help to promote reading in your own classroom.