Library inspiration... on the cheap and fancy!

If you're a new teacher or someone who is looking to improve their classroom library, I wanted to share a few ideas!  Not that mine is perfect by any means, but it's something I get excited about. The teacher-nerd in me.  :)  I think books are such a fun, colorful way to create a welcoming classroom and inspire young readers!

So, if you're someone who has so many hopes and dreams for making your library cool, but maybe don't have the big buck$ to just go buy everything you want, I wanted to inspire YOU to see that there are all kinds of super cool shelves are out there and you can find them-- often for FREE - if you're a little patient and know where to look.

You can see a tiny bit in the picture below (I should have snapped more pics!  maybe later...) that many of my books are in baskets with labels... but one thing I think helps make a library EXTRA appealing is using book displays that allow the covers of the books to be visible, catch the reader's eye, and yank them in!  It's all about presentation, right?

Here is a glimpse of what I have:
forgive the cell phone quality and the monkeys hanging from the ceiling- ha!

See the tall spinning bookshelf above?  I found that at a craft store in Dallas that was going out of business and selling their fixtures!  It was actually a greeting card display.  I told them I'm a teacher and they let me have it for $10.  If you see a store (ANY kind of store) going out of business, walk in, and use your imagination-- "could that hold books??"

And how about this beauty below?  FREE on Craigslist from a church bookstore that just didn't want it anymore!  Again, it was a greeting card display.  It's three big pieces and the drawers below it are heavenly for holding supplies.  My school custodian was NOT happy when he watched me hauling those babies in, but hey- sometimes we gotta take one for the team and do it for the kids, right?!  :)

 I have general fiction on one side and the far side on the other end of that writing table, is where I put all my seasonal books that I change out every month (like MLK Jr., Winter, Presidents, Valentine's, etc).  And btw, these are not flat against a wall, there is a path behind them and a place where kids have hooks for backpacks.  These big shelves hide some of the mess of that.  The back sides of the shelves were UGLY so I painted them with chalkboard paint!  It makes a perfect photo op place.  I can write stuff like "My 1st Day of Kindergarten!  September, 2012" and take a sweet picture on the striking black background!

this is behind the big bookshelves
How funny is this--  an old ugly chair from my mom's house that has a secret trap door for stashing books?  Of course, we keep the "mystery" genre in there... so sneaky, so awesome!

I've found several more shelves over the years similar to these and they're sitting stocked full of books in the "grandbaby playroom" at my mom's house, and in my kid's bedrooms at home!  I've helped my sister-teacher find several, too so I KNOW this kind of thing is out there.  a lot.  It wasn't just a lucky one-time deal I found.

Besides the $10 one, my other shelves have all been FREE, and been discovered from stores going out of business or one Craigslist under names like "greeting card display" or "magazine rack," or something to that effect.  I think oftentimes if people know you're a teacher and you're going to put the shelves to good use, they are thrilled to give them to you!  Sometimes you need to whip out the teacher card.  :)

Now about the BOOKS!  Between home and school, I probably have thousands upon thousands... too many really...  and I don't think I've actually paid full price for any of them.  I wanted to have a HUGE variety though so everyone can find something they're interested in for their book box.

Here are ideas for growing your classroom library:

1.  Ask for donations!  Often generous families love to clean out and unload their unwanted books to sweet teachers with classrooms full of kids who will get a lot of good use out of them.  It's really win-win!  Just pop it in your newsletter and see what happens.

2.  Book orders!  Yes, sometimes they can be a hassle (although not so bad now that parents can order online!) but man, you can really earn a ton of brand new free books thanks to Scholastic!  I send out orders every month.

3.  Birthday gifts!  Instead of having kids bring in treats, lots of teachers invite kids to bring in a gift wrapped book as a donation to the class library.  They unwrap the book while everyone sings, you write the date and  "Happy Birthday, _______!" inside the front cover, read the book aloud and there ya go!  What a great alternative to sugary cupcakes!

4.  Thrift stores or garage sales or public library book sales!  You can often find some really nice books here for a quarter.  You can't buy much for a quarter these days!   Some of them look like they've never even been read.  Snatch em up, teachers!

So there ya go!  Just a  few ideas about spicing up your library!

Hope that helps or inspires someone out there and if you have any other library ideas, questions, or comments, I'd love to hear em!

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1 comment:

  1. This is amazing! I wish my library looked like that!