Saturday, April 23, 2011

Are You Building a Classroom Library?

Last week on #engchat, a Monday evening twitter talk session on English topics, Teresa Bunner talked about ways to build your classroom library. I missed the chat, but reading the archive had me thinking about classroom libraries all week, so I thought I'd blog a few library building tips from my classroom.

Shop sales. If you live near a Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse you can shop at their bi-annual sales (December and May here in Central Florida). Ten years ago my principal gave me $1,000. to buy books at such a warehouse sale. That year our goal was to help social studies teachers build classroom libraries. We did the same thing in following years for 9th grade English and reading teachers. Then, books were typically marked 1/2 price, but now discounts run even deeper. Can you imagine how fun it was to shop for $2000 worth of young adult literature? The best year, the book fair was at our school the week prior to the sale and instead of hauling the books I'd found in my car (all 35 or so boxes of them) , the book fair folks delivered them on a pallet when they came to pick up the book fair inventory. If you live near a book fair, go! Even in lean budget years when I am only shopping for my own classroom, $50 is $100 or more dollars worth of books depending on sale prices.

Shop conferences. Do you attend national conferences?  Exhibit halls or give-aways at NCTE, ALAN, IRA can build your library. I collect enouch ARCs each year at NCTE to fill an entire book shelf. ALAN, the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents, is a must-attend. For your registration fee, you get a fantastic collection of just-out YA books (see the picture on right). Best part? Most of the authors of the books you receive  are schedule to speak and sign books over the 2-day event.

Shop or trade online.  Have you ever purchased books on eBay? Did you know several sellers will sell class sets or literature circle sets? If you're looking for a specific title you really, really want to teach or add to your library, don't forget about eBay. I discovered a lit-circle set of 6 copies of Hiaasen's Hoot for $14 in Martha's Attic Emporium, a top-rated bookseller and  room-mom for my son's 4th grade class. Used books on can also be heavily discounted and don't forget Paperback Swap. Consider weeding titles from your home or classroom library that students no longer read or that you've not re-read in some time. You can list those titles on Paperback Swap. You pay postage to other swap members when they request your books and members return the favor when you request their titles.

Just a few ways you can build or add to your classroom library. Wouldn't it be fun for a group of us to join Paperback Swap and trade amongst ourselves?

For more ideas on how to build your own classroom library, visit the Google Doc Teresa Bunner started during #engchat. Next up? Keeping track of that inventory! How do you check books in and out of your classroom library?

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