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10 Ways to Build Your Classroom Library (On a Budget!)

One of the biggest challenges for a new teacher (or a teacher moving grade levels) can be building up your classroom library.

It’s so important to have a robust selection of books for your students but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to do it!

Here are 10 ways to build your classroom library on a budget!

  1. Scholastic – The best way to get a lot of books at a great price from Scholastic is by maximizing your bonus points. You want to get to the highest level of bonus points possible in September and you’ll reap the benefits the rest of the year. Make sure to let parents know about book orders in September especially. Ask your friends and family if they want to donate some money to your classroom and spend it in September. My first year my school gave me some money for my classroom library and I used it on the September book order to get a ton of bonus points. Bonus: if you live somewhere with a Scholastic Warehouse, their warehouse sales are a great way to save too.
  2. Grants – This takes a little bit of work but writing a grant is one of the ways I got a lot of books for my classroom library as a new teacher. My state had grant opportunities for teachers so try searching for teacher grants in your own state.
  3. Shop Second Hand – Goodwill, consignment stores, and yard sales are a great way to find gently used books for your classroom library. I hit a goodwill store near me every week the summer I started teaching and I collected a lot of awesome books in good shape!
  4. Kids Need to Read – if 50% of your school population lives at or below the national poverty line, you can apply to receive books for your classroom.
  5. Half Price Books – Half Price Books donates books to classrooms! You can make a request for your classroom.
  6. Ask Your Friends and Family – Set up a book drive or an Amazon Wishlist or Donors Choose project and ask your friends and family to help. People love books and readers and will likely be happy to pitch in to help your students have enough books to read! If you’re willing to accept gently used books you’ll likely get even more donations.
  7. Online Book Deal SitesBooks A Million, Thrift Books, Book Outlet, Better World Books
  8. Online Second Hand – Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and groups, and Ebay can be great places to find used books. Search for “retiring teacher” for teachers who are getting rid of all their stuff. On Ebay look for bundles and lots of books and sellers willing to ship with media mail to save money on shipping.
  9. The Reading Resource Project – This program is sponsored by the Literacy Empowerment Foundation and provides books for pre-k to 2nd grade at just the cost of $0.88 shipping per book.
  10. Library Sales – Check for library sales in your area! Books are usually $1 or less. Use the BookSaleFinder to help find library sales in your area.

We always share any great book deals we find in our facebook group! We’d love to have you join us!

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After a combined 14 years in 2nd grade, sisters Heidi & Emily are passionate about helping simplify life for other teachers!

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