When I was growing up, my family always spent the month of July at my grandparents’ home on a lake. We would take a weekly trip to the library, and I’d check out the maximum number of books allowed. Then I’d spend at least an hour each day in the hammock, reading until one of my sisters insisted on taking over the hammock with her own books. The first thing I planted at my first home was a pair of fast-growing trees, spaced just right for a hammock. I couldn’t do anything about getting a lake, but I could plan for a hammock!book-store

Researchers have determined that kids who read one million words of print a year will increase their vocabulary by 1000 new words each year. And one of the best ways to ensure success on standardized tests is to have a rich vocabulary, in particular, those words that are considered academic vocabulary.

Armed with this knowledge, having a great classroom library for students to enjoy was always important to me. Summer became my time to plan new literature units and to catch up on the latest Newbery and Caldecott books. As when I was young, I checked out as many books as I could and read in my hammock, guilt free. After all, I was preparing for next year.

6 Tips for Building a Great Library

With my limited budget, I also used the summer months to build my classroom library. Here are some of my tips.

  1. Buy books at garage sales. You can find real treasures for very little money.
  2. Ask your public librarians when the next library sale will be. If they know you are buying for your classroom, they might let you buy the day before the sale.
  3. Watch for bookstore sales. Books that haven’t sold well may be on remainder tables—the leftovers essentially. They are often of high quality and help round out your library. (During the year, buy seasonal and holiday books after the holidays when the prices drop.)
  4. Go to used books stores. In some cases, you can trade books.
  5. Look for bargains online. I’ve found previously expensive books for a dollar or two plus shipping.
  6. Let your friends, relatives, and students’ parents know that you’re looking for bargain books when they are at various sales. Many will be happy to pass along books that their children have outgrown.

If you don’t have a hammock, find a comfy chair, grab a cup of coffee, and enjoy your summer reading, guilt free!

Your Turn!

What are your best tips for building your classroom library?