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Free and Cheap Ways to Get Books for Your Classroom Library
If you're a brand new teacher or have to change grade levels, you might be looking for a way to stock your class library without spending a ton of cash.
Here are some of the best places where you can get free or really inexpensive books for kids:
Garage and Yard Sales
This is my favorite place to find classroom books. Look for sales that are advertising kids' clothing or toys because they almost always have books too.
When you go, buy what you like and then be sure to mention that you're a teacher. Ask the person running the sale to contact you if there are any more books left at the end. They may donate them to you or sell them to you for next to nothing.
Sometimes rather than pricing books individually, they will be priced by the bag where you pay a flat price for as many books as you can fit.
Most thrift store have rather large book sections with children's books priced as low as 25 cents each. Some to check out are Goodwill, Salvation Army, SPCA or Humane Society, local church thrift stores, and other non-profit organizations.
Many public libraries hold library sales several times per year. They are often sponsored by Friends of the Library. This is when books are purged from the library shelves and sold to the public. You can often fill a bag for a very small fee.
When teachers retire or leave the profession, they have to find something to do with all the books they've accumulated over the years. If someone at your school is leaving, ask what they plan to do with those books. They may gift them to you or offer to sell them at a very good price.
Many homeschoolers and parents sell the books their children have outgrown on Facebook. Try searching different terms to find what's there... kids books, kid's books, children's books, picture books, chapter books, etc.
Scholastic Book Clubs Dollar Deals
Set up a teacher account with Scholastic Book Clubs and then search for their dollar deals. You can also find books for $2 or $3 each. If you have students that place orders, you can also earn points to redeem for free books.
Scholastic Warehouse Sales
Once or twice per year, Scholastic holds warehouse sales. These are only in select locations, so you'll have to see if there's one near you and then register to attend the sale: Scholastic Warehouse sales
This is a great option if you work at a Title 1 school. First Book runs a marketplace where teachers can find new books at 50 to 90% off retail prices. There is also a National Book Bank offering free books. However, you pay the shipping of 35¢-50¢ per book.
The Book Bundler
This site offers bulk boxes of books at very low prices. The catch is that you don't get to pick the individual books you want. Instead, you choose an age range and genre. For example, you can select "Nonfiction Paperback for ages 8-13" and they will send you a box full of books that fit in that category. Check out all the offerings here: BookBundler
Kids Need to Read
This organization provides free books and literary resources to schools and libraries. To be eligible for the program, 50% of your school population must be living at or below the national poverty line.
You can apply to receive books here: Donation Application (Applications are accepted all months except May, June, November, and December)
The Reading Resource Project
This program distributes softcover books to support literacy programs. Books are available for pre-K through second grade. Recipients are required to pay shipping and handling of 78¢ per book and there is a 100-book minimum. So team up with other teachers at your school if you don't need that many. The Reading Resource Project
Half Price Books Donation Program
If you have a Half Price Books store near you, this is worth checking into. They consider donation requests from nonprofit organizations and educators. If approved, you must be able to pick up your books at one of their locations. To request a donation, fill out their Half Price Books donation request form