Building a classroom library can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be if you know where to look!
Having a classroom library with diverse reads and all types of genres is essential to promoting a love of reading. Have a full classroom library allows students to find more than one book that they want to read, and gives students the opportunity to fall in love with more characters, more authors, and more books!
The reality is, though, that books can be so expensive… especially an entire classroom library of tens and hundreds of books.
And I know that most of every teacher’s classroom is self-funded. That means YOU are spending the money to grow your classroom library and enhance the lives of your students one book at a time.
But it’s expensive. Let’s just leave it at that. The truth. Books are expensive.
No worries, teacher friend!
Here’s a list of places that you can find quality, gently used children’s book for the cheap, cheap price of… well, not full price.
1. The Good Will
It’s usually hit or miss, but you’re sure to find something. I love frequenting the Good Will to find more than just books too, like board games and manipulatives.
2. Used Book Stores (like Half Price Books)
I love used book stores, my favorite being Half Price Books. You can search one of their actual stores, or online, to buy used books at great prices.
I’ve found that the best time to look for holiday books, is either a month to 6 weeks before the holiday, or on the complete off-season. For example, December is a great time to start looking for Valentine’s books.
Amazon is probably the easiest and most well known place to buy new books at cheaper prices (not always cheaper, or much cheaper). But you can also buy used books at cheaper prices too.
Be careful with this option though, because sometimes the shipping on the used books are more than the book itself.
You can buy just about anything on eBay, used or new. Sometimes the books are cheaper, and then occasionally you find a book overpriced.
Regardless, it’s definitely an option to build your classroom library! You can often find book sets together or bundles of books for discounted prices.
This is one of my new favorite places to search for books. My first order contained 10-12 books (I can’t even remember! It was quite a few.), and I only paid $25! I was so impressed.
I’ve also learned that you can put books on a “watch list” if they are currently not available, and get notified when the book does become available.
This one is similar to the website from #5!
There’s also the option on DiscoverBooks to create a wish list. This would be great for giving parents the option to donate books to your classroom.
7. Yard Sales, Garage Sales, and Flea Markets
Yard sales and garage sales may be seasonal where you live, but are a fantastic place to pick up used books for super cheap. I will admit that most of my classroom library has come from yard sales.
There is a yard sale app that you can use too to help you find sales in your area. It pulls listing from Craigslist, so I like to search “kids books” or “teacher” to see what comes up, and then mark those on the map to hit first.
8. Facebook Groups
There are a lot of Facebook groups out there now, including online yard sale groups of people selling everything. If you search “yard sale ____” and put in your area on Facebook, it should pop up with a local group.
Sometimes you’ll find teacher groups too that are specifically for buying/selling teacher supplies and stuff. You can score books for inexpensive prices that way too.
Most of the books I’ve found on Craigslist come in huge bundles, but I’m not mad. If you can score 50+ books for a good price, it’s a great way to start your classroom library in bulk.
10. Price Matching
Check with the customer service desk before you go buying all the brand new books, but places like Target will price-match to Amazon. Just recently I purchased a brand new book for five bucks and change at Target, that was marked for $17.99.
Book fairs, or when Scholastic has their dollar book deals, is a GREAT way to stock up on brand new books at used book prices. Sign up for their emails or just frequent the website to check for sales going on.
12. Ask Parents and Family Members
Ask parents of students or your family members to donate old books to your classroom. Maybe they have a bunch of younger-level children’s books they are going to get rid of… why not ask if they would kindly donate them to your classroom. 🙂
Where else have you found to be a great place to purchase books on a budget?