August 13, 2011

Build Your Classroom Library!

The library is my favorite part of the classroom.  Each year I spend the most time and money on this section of my room.  Why? Well, I love books and I love reading and I love sharing both of those things with my students.  
I have a huge range of books and several more bins of books in my garage. These books didn't make the cut for my classroom right now, but will likely be brought in later in the year as my students become better readers.  (This rotation of the books keeps my library fresh and exciting.) 

Here are some good ways to build your classroom library without breaking the bank...

1) Half Price Books: I hope you all have a Half Price Books near you.  This is a great place to find used books in good shape at a good price.  Plus, you can sign up for a 10% teacher discount.  They also have a clearance rack most of the time and I have found some great titles on there. I usually just scan the chapter book section, but I have found the picture books to be a bit overwhelming.  They are sorted  by author, so go in with a list.  Believe will save you time.  I once left a great writing workshop with 10 titles of mentor texts and found half of them at my local HPB for a fraction of the cost and all in paperback! (I prefer paperback at this point because it is lighter and thinner which makes it easier to store.) Love it!  Click here to find a store near you.

2) PaperBack Swap: I just discovered this website this summer and it is terrific! Basically, you post books you have already read and would be willing to "swap" with someone else. Once you post 10 books, you are given 2 credits to begin ordering your own books.  It's so easy. You just search and click "order book" when you find one you want. You earn credits when others order from you. You only pay to mail off your books.  When you order a book, you pay nothing.  You can also create wish lists and "wait in line" for books.  Once a wish list book has been posted, you are notified by email.  After changing grades so many times, I realized I had a lot of books that were just way too high for my 4th graders.  I also had books that had been in my classroom for years and never been cracked.  I decided to use my experience and knowledge to sort my books.  I posted books that weren't getting used and started searching for books I knew interested my students.  Out with the old and in with the new!  Come join the fun by clicking here

3) Scholastic Book Orders: I think most teachers already use this program, but if you don't already load up in September, start doing it!  The back to school issue is always the best for bonus points, so go ahead and max yourself out.  Get all the points you can get.  I do this at the beginning of the year and then just use my bonus points for all my future buys throughout the year. Sign up for your catalog here!

4) Student Donations:  I have also had several generous students and families donate to my library.  I have a special "Donated By" sticker for these books, which the kids love.  I have to be careful though... sometimes the books they want to give you are not the books you are looking to add to your library.  :)

Any other secrets for adding to your classroom library? I'd love to hear your ideas... please comment below.


  1. Hi Amanda. Thanks for stopping by, I am so gald you did...because now I am your newest follower:) Love these ideas for sourcing books. I have been collecting so many over the course of my degree...mind you my three girls have enjoyed them ;) I can't wait to have my own classroom so I can set up a library! Yours must be fabulous!! Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.
    Good Morning Mrs Rubie

  2. Thanks for stopping by Tina! Looking forward to swapping ideas with you. ~Amanda

  3. This might not be the case for every state, but in Missouri you can sign up to receive Missouri Conservationist and it's children's version Xplorer each month. It's a conservation type magazine that shows up in my mailbox for free every month! I have developed quite the collection in my classroom. It would be worth checking out in your state!

  4. Messy Gal...thanks for the advice. I will definitely check into it. :) ~Amanda

  5. Thanks for sharing this info.! I had a PHENOMENAL children's literature teacher who emphasized having a MAJOR library in our classroom (though she is now deceased... she passed away from ovarian cancer one month after I graduated... I wish she could see my library now, though I may officially dedicate it to her this year). With her inspiration, I now have 1,200 books, neatly organized (a shocker for me!).

    I love checking Goodwill and other used bookstores. St. Augustine had a bookstore called "Good Books" (though it closed a year or two after graduation) that sold used books (and MANY children's books) for super-cheap. In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I came across Hope Gospel Mission, a massive thrift store the size of maybe a Target store. In Nashville, Tennessee, I found McKay Used Books (I think that's what it was called). There are so many treasures in every state, I bet, that teachers are not aware of. Still have yet to find a wonderful store in Florida; I am sure one exists.


  6. Victoria... thanks for sharing those other places. I haven't found that perfect used book store here yet either, but I'm looking. Half Price Books is filling the void for now. You sound like you have a library like mine. I'm not quite sure (and a little scared) to actually count my books. My husband would probably just shake his head and sigh. I really want a book scanner to help me organize and catalog everything. I just need to find out if my district will let me download the software and then...nothing can stop me. :)

  7. I also like Goodwill for book shopping. The ones here in Louisiana aren't that great, but the ones in Georgetown,TX where my sister lives are FABULOUS! Everytime I visit her, we go on a Goodwill run and I find tons of great books for only $0.59!! I've been thinking about getting a scanner too...that might be a project for next summer. :-)


  8. We don't have any bookstores in the small town I live in; however, we have some consignment shops and a Goodwill type store. I have gotten several books from one of the consignment stores and also at Goodwill. I love books too; that is probably what I spent half my money on for the first few years I was teaching; but I was living at home so I had no real expenses but my car! LOL, anyway, so glad I found your site and I hope you have a wonderful year!


  9. reading is one of my favorite hobbies, so it has become my biggest passion in teaching. i can't pass a garage sale without quickly scanning for children's toys. if there are children's toys, then there is a good chance there will be children's books!

    as far as donations, i have also asked family friends and my parents' coworkers to donate any of their children's old books that they no longer need. a donation label would be great for these as well!


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!