12 Tips for Growing Your Classroom Library on a Teeny Tiny Budget

No matter what grade you teach, we understand—you want to have an awesome classroom library for your students to use. Having a wide variety of books not only fosters a love for reading, but caters to all types of learners. […]

No matter what grade you teach, we understand—you want to have an awesome classroom library for your students to use. Having a wide variety of books not only fosters a love for reading, but caters to all types of learners.

The problem? Books can get expensive! Especially if you’re a newbie teacher who is building your library from scratch. You’re probably spending enough of your own money to make your classroom oh-so-awesome, and sourcing books should not be one of those budget pain points. This is why we asked our teacher audience for their best tips for building a library on the cheap. Here’s what they had to say.

  1. Go to library sales. “I got two boxes full of good books for $5. I still paid out of pocket, but it’s worth it! Plus, library books often have reinforced bindings.” —K. R.

    Your public library might have an annual used books sale. “Mine has a set time where teachers get all the books they want for free.” —KD H.

    “Ask your local library for withdrawn books. They may end up giving them to you for free.” —Karen G.

  2. Volunteer. “I volunteer at the Scholastic warehouse sales in my area and they pay me in books.” —Stacey M. 
  3. Reading round-up. “Each year I host a reading round-up. Kids bring in their old books and I give them a ticket to win a prize. In June I pick a winner. The prize is usually something I was able to buy at a yard sale.” —Melody A. 
  4. Word of mouth. If other teachers know you’re interested in growing your library, you’ll come to mind when they are looking to retire old books. “I’m a second year teacher with about 1,300 books in my classroom, many of which came from other teachers who knew I was interested!” –Gabby M.
  5. Do your research! “Use this awesome website Book Sale Finder— to find local book sales. Many books are priced well under $1.” —Sheena G.
  6. Shop for free. “I went to Half Price Books. If you tell them you need books for your classroom library, they’ll give you a form to fill out and have signed by your school. In return, they gave me two big boxes of free books.” —Laura B.
  7. Rummage-a-thon. It’s summer—hit up those garage sales, or check Goodwill. And don’t stop there! Consider talking to area community groups and see if they’re willing to donate any books to your class. —Winnie H.

    “Don’t be afraid to ask your students’ families for books their children have outgrown. They’re usually very happy to give them away.” —Mandy S.

  8. Social media. “Check Facebook for local teacher groups that post items for sale. We have one and there are some great deals.” —Ashlee H. 
  9. Keep your budget in mind. “Don’t bankrupt yourself buying tons of books! Set a limit and buy your must-haves. Borrow anything beyond that.” —Brita L. 
  10. Less is more. “Little ones read the same books over and over, so stick with some really good book choices. Quality, not quantity, will keep them reading!” —Shannan S.
  11. Create a wish list. Jot down the books you know you want and need for the classroom and keep your eyes peeled. “Make a used book wish list and give it to your friends who love stopping at yard sales!” —Carrie W. 
  12. Improvise. “As you’re building your library, visit your local library and check out books with the topics you’re studying. The students will look forward to the new books that come in and out and it shows them the value of visiting the library.” —Kendall A.

Need some more ideas? Check out our tips from last year–15 Free (or Cheap) Ways to Stock Your Classroom Library. And share any other ideas that come to mind in the comments below.

12 Tips Library_Pin

Posted by Danielle N. Barr

Danielle Barr is the director of social strategy at WeAreTeachers and loves being a part of the thriving teacher community online. She's a writer, reader & dog-lover, who spends her free time renovating her 1920s bungalow.

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