Having a classroom library of several hundred titles makes good sense for teachers who are trying to inspire children to become readers. It is also backed by all kinds of research as being an important piece of the literacy puzzle. It is not often, though, that teachers are given the funds to build a class library. It is one of those things that we figure out on our own and work toward, step by step. It is very rare to find a "new" teacher with a full class library in place. There are ways to add books, though sometimes we need to get creative. Below are a few suggestions.
* Probably the easiest way to add to your class library is to take advantage of all the freebies offered by bookclubs. I don't believe in pressuring students or parents to order books, but I send home the flyers and provide the opportunity. Use bonus points, free book coupons, and other offers to get classroom books.
* Ask for donations of used books as parents clean out closets, bookshelves, etc, at home. You will get some books that you can't use, just pass these along to a thrift store or other worthy cause, and keep the books that your class can use.
*Look for grant opportunities. In my district, the Education Foundation has an annual "Tools for Schools" mini grant of $200 that is available to every teacher, every year. We just have to have a plan, fill out the form, meet the guidelines and deadline, and the money is ours. I buy books with it almost every year.
*When you do have money to spend, shop around and look for the best prices. One of my favorite sources for classroom books is http://www.thereadingwarehouse.com/ They have very competitive prices and great customer service.
*When parents, PTA, or others ask for suggestions for getting you a gift, suggest a gift card for a local bookstore or online source.
*Keep an eye out for book sales at public libraries in your community. As they weed out their collections, they sell books for very minimal prices. You may find some that will fit right into your class library.
I hope you found something in my list of suggestions that sparked an idea. My class library is a huge asset in my room. In further postings, I'll discuss ideas for organizing, labeling, and checking out books. Til then--happy teaching!