Why I Want to Find Free Classroom Library Books
Finding free classroom library books or cheap classroom library books can be near impossible. It's essential, though, to grow your book collection to keep students engaged in reading and help them be motivated to read during daily independent reading.
Since I started Daily Five in my classroom, it was necessary that I grew my classroom library to allow students choice in choosing books for their book boxes. I want them to find books that they were excited to read. Its important to me that they experience the feeling that I get browsing through a book store and finding a book that I cannot wait to crack open!
If you're willing to put in the time, hunting for great deals for classroom books can be fun! I love searching through boxes of books at garage sale and perusing through book stacks at a used book store. I take pride in growing my classroom library and am excited with every new addition.
Scholastic is a great way to get free classroom library books. First, I always make sure that I give parents the option to put in a Scholastic order each month. If you order above a certain amount, monthly, you get an extra $100 at the end of the year. That adds up fast! Second, when I hand out flyers I give my students 3-5 minutes to look through with their friends as that tends to pump up sales. If not, flyers often go missing before they even get home. Third, I always make sure I check for any deals when I place my classroom order. Scholastic has started different monthly deals such as spend X amount and receive a free book at $6 or less. Again, each free classroom library book counts!
When our school puts on a Scholastic Book Fair, I always make sure to fill out one of the class wish lists that they provide. Some years, I've had parents donate books so it's worth the five minutes it takes to write down some titles!
I always check Scholastic's flyers along with my students each month. They often have featured books for great prices. Cheap classroom library books? I'll take em! Scholastic also hosts warehouse sales at various locations and periodic online sales where you can scoop up some cheap books for your classroom library.
2. Local Buy and Sell Pages
Local buy and sell pages like Facebook marketplace, Facebook buy and sell groups, Kijiji, Craigstlist, etc, are all great places to look for used books. Checking my local Facebook Marketplace is part of my daily morning routine during summer break. I have my morning coffee and check to see if there are any great kids books for sale to add to my classroom library.
My best tip when messaging people directly for books is to ask for a cheaper price and explain that it's because you're trying to purchase cheap classroom library books. I say something like “I'd love to buy these books for ___. I'm on a budget because I'm buying books to grow the book collection in my classroom.” Most times, people have agreed to sell me their books for much less and some have even given them to me for free! Again, free classroom library books? Puh-lease!
3. Garage Sales
This might be one of my favourite summertime activities. So lame, right? I love the thrill of never knowing what I'll find. Sometimes you score and sometimes you don't… at all.
When shopping garage sales, I always ask for the price on books before loading up. Sometimes, the prices aren't great but sometimes you can find some real steals!
For example, I recently went to a garage sale where all books were 25 cents each. I bought any book that would be around my students' level which included books from: the Pokemon series, the Bionicle Chronicles series, and The Beast Quest series. I am always conscious of ensuring that I pay cheap prices for books that are of “lesser” quality or books that aren't hard to come by. BUT because they were only 25 cents, I purchased all books that I could find that were appropriate for third grade.
At a different garage sale that I was at earlier in the summer, the books were pristine but they were asking $2 a book. I purchased the ones that I really wanted like the Ivy & Bean series, but, I didn't purchase all of the books suitable for my grade because they weren't at a “perfect garage sale price”. When I say I'm looking for cheap classroom library books, I mean cheap!
4. Used Book Stores
Used book stores are my second favourite place to search for new (to me) classroom library books. Although the vibes in a used book store are better than a garage sale to sit and peruse books, the books are not nearly as discounted. However, used book stores are a great place to find that certain title that you've been looking for. Some books are more difficult to find and you might have a better chance at a used book store than at a garage sale.
5. Students' Families
Writing a blurb in your class newsletter or in an email to parents to let families know that you're open to receiving donations of gently used books can be a great way to receive some donations. You can decide if you'd like to ask families to check with you first to see if the books to donate are titles that you already have, or if you're not worried about having doubles, you can leave that part out. Families are often looking to get rid of books as their children outgrow them and it can be a great win-win. You get to grow your collection with free classroom library books and they get to declutter!
6. Other Teachers
Other teachers are often looking to downsize their classroom libraries when they are changing grades or retiring. We have a local Facebook teacher buy and sell page that I often check to see if anyone is offloading any books. Check Facebook out to see if there's a similar page in your city!
7. Online Shopping
I've recently discovered some incredibly tempting websites that sell cheap classroom library books! My favourite Canadian discounted book website is Book Outlet and I've also heard great things about the American website Half Price Books. I've also heard of some people having success finding cheap classroom library books on Ebay but I haven't experienced success with this, personally.
8. Library Sales
Ask your local library if they have any sales coming up. They often sell extra copies of books for a cheap price. I've seen most library sell books for 25 cents each at these types of sales. I love paying 25 cents for books. It's my favourite price to pay… except for free, of course! The greatest part of library sales is when they are offloading extra copies, they are often books that were bestsellers because they often get extra copies of those books when they are popular and then offload them as other books grow in popularity.
9. Retail Stores
Lastly, I always keep my eye open at various retail stores or online. Of course, more current books are often not showing up at used book stores or garage sales so sometimes I'll watch for prices on Amazon or Indigo. Depending on the book it might also pop up at Walmart or at various grocery stores. I try my best not to purchase books from these sources unless it's a book that I need RIGHT NOW and can't wait for. One such book was Stella Dias Has Something To Say a book I purchased for the Global Read Aloud of 2019.
Why I Search For Cheap Classroom Library Books
My love of reading runs deep and I so badly want that for my students. So many times when I've brought in new book finds, I've been able to reignite the love of reading in them as they scramble to get their hands on our newest treasures. That's why I hunt so hard to constantly grow our book collection.