Tuesday, January 19, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Building a Classroom Library Collection

I own all the books in my classroom library. Some of them were donations from other teachers or grabbed wherever I could grab them, but the majority of them I have bought out of my own money. We've been talking about this a bit over at Twitter, and Reading Countess has recently made a post about the never-ending costs. I often wince when I look at the prices (especially on American books and graphic novels which are harder to get in Australia) but I agree with Donalyn Miller's discussion of classroom libraries in The Book Whisperer - at least I can move my classroom library with me wherever I go (even if I might need to hire a truck the way I'm going) and there's no guilt (or library fine) attached if a book is lost. I also find that the students really value my books - they know I send my money on them and they take care of them (I don't think I lost a single book last year, though I need to replace one after being read to death).

So how do I get my books. Well here's a few places:

  • The LifeLine book fest - It only happens twice a year, and they're second hand books, so you're at the mercy of what you can find. But as I mentioned in my last post, you just can't get better for value. I tend to pick up around 100-150 books for the classroom, which really adds up after a couple of years.
  • Big W/Target - I don't know what the equal to Big W would be in other countries (they're a discount department store), but whenever I go in there I check out the books. They have a smaller selection than some book stores, but the books there sell for 30 or 35% off recommended retail price. It's great for building up series of books or if there's a book you're no 100% sure about. Target has an even smaller selection (or my local Target does anyway), but also sell collections of books really cheap - I got four Ranger's Apprentice books for around $12 :)
  • Scholastic Sales - I've only been to one, but our local Scholastic warehouse has a number of sales throughout the year with excellent, brand new books at great prices. Not a huge range, but it is possible to get some great new additions for the library.
  • Borders/QBD/Bookshops - I cannot walk past a bookshop without going in, so I do tend to pick up books here, especially when they're on special. I probably get more books at Borders because of their bigger range, though I'd rather they had more good quality US and UK books and less Twilight shelves
  • Amazon.com - In the last year I've ordered a lot of books from Amazon.com - it started with graphic novels I could not get in Australia and moved on to books I couldn't get in Australia. Recently book delivery has been really quick, but I usually expect 4-6 weeks to get them delivered.

It all adds up to a lot of money, but I shop around wherever I can, and luckily I don't have a lot of other expenses. I know it's totally worth it, though when the kids want to read the new books I bring into the classroom, and being able to expose them to a wider range of books is a real buzz. I still wish I had some sort of book-buying fairy who would buy me lots of books, but for now I'm happy to keep getting books wherever I can.

Read about some of the ways I organise my classroom library here
Read more about Reader's Workshop here

2 comments:

ReadingCountess said...

I agree with you in that the kids know you value the books and look out for them. I love the reference to books being read to death...we called that "well loved" in our classroom. It warms my heart everytime I retire one.
Great post!

A Reader's Community said...

I definately have no problem with replacing that one - it's the first in a series (CHERUB by Robert Muchamore) and has been the first book a lot of kids have enjoyed.

A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

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