How to Smartly Build Your Classroom Library

This is my last post in a series of posts geared towards new teachers, but the content can certainly be helpful for veteran teachers as well. If you are interested in reading more of my teacher tips, click here!

I recently had someone to reach out to me on Instagram and asked me how I was able to build such a large classroom Library. How do I get all these books and if I had any suggestions for that. So below I put together five different ideas to help you build your classroom library.

1. Visit Your Local Library First

One thing that I have been doing recently is checking books out of my local library, before buying them for my classroom. This allows me to read the book and see if it’s the right fit for my classroom, without spending the money on it. So whether it’s your local library or your school library, I think it’s important to read the book and make sure it’s the right fit for your classroom before spending your hard-earned money on it.

2. Ask Family and Friends 

When I first got my teaching job I reached out via Facebook and email to family and friends asking them if they had any all the books that would be appropriate for the 3rd to 5th grade age range and if they would be willing to donate them to my classroom library. I have to say, when I did this, I was quite overwhelmed with the response. I probably ended up with six or seven boxes full of books for my students. I did have to go through them and make sure they worked for my classroom, but this was a very easy, and cost-efficient, way to quickly build my classroom library

3. Half-Priced Books or Goodwill

Another way to build your library is to go to Half Price Books, Goodwill, or Salvation Army. Oftentimes you have to rummage through the books a bit to find ones that you might be looking for, but you can definitely get them for a discount. For example, I was at Good Will a couple months ago and I happened to go to the book section and found a hardcover Harry Potter book for $2. That’s right, I think it was a $33 savings. So you never know what you’ll find and I can tell you that my students were very excited to have a new copy of the Harry Potter book (However, I don’t remember which one it was). 

4. Scholastic

Like most teachers, it is important to build your library using Scholastic. What’s awesome is that you can send home either a digital or paper form in which students can buy books. Then, when they purchase books, you earn points! Over the years I have purchased tons of books (hundreds for sure) and I have also used the points to buy items for my classroom. I have purchased four wobble stools with my points, along with a few other items. One thing I do suggest is to enter the contest that is going on right now (summer 2020) in which James Patterson is giving away, along with Scholastic, $500 to spend on Scholastic books, plus 500 points. I entered this a few years ago and actually was selected. This really helped me build my classroom.

5. Conferences

The last suggestion I have is whenever you attend a conference be sure to walk around the expo. A few years ago I was at the National Council for the Social Studies conference in Chicago and I was blown away with the amount of books that people were giving away. I have had the opportunity to meet a bunch of authors and have them sign books which were given to me for free. On the last day of the conference there are also many publishers that don’t want to bring books back with them, so they will sell you books for $5 each. I always put a little limit on myself for that, but I usually come away with $70 or $80 worth of books for maybe $20. This doesn’t happen at every conference, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you are attending one. 

Bonus Tip!

If you are looking to give back while building up your classroom library, check out Open Books in Chicago! You can purchase diverse books for your classroom and give back to the community at the same time. Thanks to a wonderful co-worker, I’ve got a set of the 4th grade books on the way.

I hope you found these tips helpful! If you have any additional tips, be sure to comment below!

I loved meeting all the wonderful authors at the NCSS conference!

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