Here are 10 additional ways to transform your classroom library into the crown jewel that it deserves to be! Consider how you can use these additional suggestions to get more books into your classroom and into readers’ hands.
1. Network: Talk with colleagues about effective ways that they have used to build their classroom libraries. Chat with your school literacy coach about potential ways to grow your classroom library. If you are a new teacher or someone with a very limited library, ask members of your school staff (including those who work in the offices, lunchroom, maintenance, and so on) if they have any books that their children and/or grandchildren have outgrown. Be sure to have students write thank-you notes to the donors.
2. Newsletter/Class Website Reminders: As you keep families informed about their children’s learning via your class newsletter and/or website, include a “Coming Soon” section that describes upcoming themes and topics. Ask if they have any related books or magazines that they could donate to help students build background knowledge on future topics.
3. Online Reading: It is wonderful to have a vast print library, but remember that many students enjoy reading online. Inquire about subscriptions that your school may have to online texts. Children can also access these resources from home if they have Internet access, or from the neighborhood library. Contact the public library that serves your school community to verify which electronic resources children can access with a library card.
4. Parent Club: Find out if the school parent club or room parents can help you with getting books or magazines. Your parent organization may be able to assist teachers with purchasing a classroom magazine subscription.
5. School Book Fair: Explore hosting a school book fair. Book vendors often offer specials or buy-one/get-one-free book deals that can be used to expand your classroom library.
6. Student-Created Books: Form a buddy program and invite upper-grade students to read their illustrated texts to your class. Encourage them to donate their student-created books to your library. If your school has a writing club or bookmaking club, invite members to contribute their texts to your classroom library.
7. Teacher Appreciation Days: At certain times of the year (usually at the beginning of the school year and around spring break), many stores host teacher appreciation events. If there are certain bookstores that you frequent, check their websites for the dates when these events are scheduled. Teachers can sometimes obtain free or discounted books on these occasions.
8. Teacher Discounts: Many stores, including bookstores, craft stores, and office-supply stores, offer discounts to teachers upon the presentation of a school ID. Even if this discount is not advertised, it never hurts to check with customer service. Find out the store policies about getting a teacher discount; sometimes online registration or other paperwork is required. Via the store website, you can also sign up for information about offers, coupons, and customer award programs.
9. Thrift Stores: Shop at local thrift shops for additions to your classroom library. Let the manager know that you are a teacher, and ask to be informed if any larger-scale donations of children’s books come into the store.
10. Wish List: Post lists of books or genres that you would like to have for your class in your newsletter, on your classroom door, or on your class website. Generous parents, volunteers, or visitors might be able to supply a few.