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Stretch Your Classroom Library

Of course you want your students to have a great selection of books for reading throughout the year, but most schools do not pay for classroom libraries. How on earth are new teachers (and even the more experienced ones) expected to have a quality selection of classroom library books?

Here’s some ways to get your hands on some books:

1. Buy them. Yes, most teachers have to buy their own classroom library books. Rather than paying full price for new try garage sales, used books stores, public library sell-offs. Sometimes retired teachers and teachers leaving the classroom have books they are giving away for selling for cheap.

2. Ask for donations. Lots of families have lots of books sitting around at home collecting dust and most parents are happy to get them out of the house. Write a note explaining the types of books you are looking for and where to bring donations. Be sure it’s clear these are donations so no one is surprised when the book isn’t returned to the family.

3. Talk to your coworkers. Lots of teachers change grades. Maybe they have a classroom library for the grade you need and are willing to sell, lend or give it to you.

4. Trade halfway through. We share our classroom library with another teacher with the same grade. Halfway through the year we switch all the books in our classroom to her classroom and she gives us all of hers. That way we only need half the books.

5. Watch for library discards. Sometimes these books are given away for free.

6. Ask for money. If the books are going to remain with the school instead of your personal classroom library, ask your administration for money. It might work. If there is no money perhaps a fundraiser might work. Maybe your parent council has money for books?

7. Write grants or apply to sites like While school boards in Canada have stricter rules about how teachers raise money for their classrooms, it might be worth looking into grants from private businesses like Chapters/Indigo.

8. Enter contests. Scholastic often has contests for book prizes. It takes time, but it can help build up the classroom library. Contact Scholastic in your country to set up an account. When parents buy books, you earn rewards that can be used to purchase new books.

9. Use your school library. We often sign out 20-30 books and keep them in the room for about a month. It’s easy to switch out the books and they’re free.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t get your hands on a lot of books right away. It takes time to build up a quality collection. In the absence of books in your classroom take your kids to the library as often as possible. Read aloud to them and maybe even ask your public library to come help students sign up for library cards to your local public library. The more books available to your students, the more they will have the opportunity to read. Do you have any tips for getting more books into the hands of your students? Leave us a comment below.

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