As much fun as it is find freebies and bargains, eventually you’ll need to purchase some full price books. This section gives you ideas on how to invest wisely and get high quality books at the best possible price.
Get books built into the budget and keep them there – I believe that every classroom or grade level needs to have a budget line item dedicated to book purchases every year. Classroom book collections need to continually grow and evolve. To get the resources and support your need, you’ll want to get support of your administrator. Helping him or her understand the important of a well stocked classroom library is essential. You may even want to share the post from STEP 2 “Start Building a Classroom Collection of Books Kids Can and Want to Read.” Bottom line, you’re going to need some $$ to build a great collection. Not just this year, but every year to come.
Purchasing collections as a set – Many vendors are equipped to sell you an entire classroom collection, or a targeted classroom collection in one shot. If you have the resources to do this, it saves a lot of time and energy from trying to design and order your own collection one vendor at a time. Some that I have worked with and would recommend are Scholastic, Developmental Studies Center, and Booksource.
Keep a running list of books you want and need – When you learn that you have some dollars to spend on your classroom book collection, you will not want to be caught short on ideas of what to buy. Check out my Pinterest boards to find great recommendations for PRIMARY or INTERMEDIATE aged kids in lots of different categories.
Purchase add-on-packs – Almost every vendor that sells leveled books sells what is called an Add-On pack. This is a package of one copy of each of the individual titles in a text range or other segment of their collection. They are typically intended to extend the size or replace lost books from guided reading six packs. However, since they include one copy only of a variety of titles within a level or series, they are also perfect for classroom collections, where only one copy is needed. This is typically a cheaper way to buy single titles from vendors rather than purchasing them individually.
Purchase 6-packs and break them up – A similar strategy is to take advantage of the 6-pack pricing most vendors offer, and break up the 6 pack between 4-6 classroom.
Always ask for a discounts and free shipping- When ordering from any vendor, always try to speak directly to a sales representative. This is different from customer service. Sales representatives want to make sales, so never be scared to ask what type of a discount they can offer you. You will be surprised to learn that you can get up to 40% off at times just for asking, depending on the size of your purchase. If you can’t get an on the spot discount from the sales rep, be sure to ask if they anticipate any sales promotions in the near future. Because shipping is expensive, ask about free shipping options. The shipping will almost always be cheaper if you are willing to accept their slower ground options for delivery.
Be sure to claim your personal expenditures as a tax deduction – If you are like most teachers I know, it’s not a matter of if you will buy some books out of your own pocket, it’s simply a matter when. Just remember, when you do, to save your receipts for tax time. Books you buy for your classroom can qualify for the Educator Expense deduction of up to $250 if you are single and $500 if you are married. But, don’t take my word for it, check out this information from the IRS for more details and be sure to check with your tax expert if you have other questions.
Spend time in book stores and buy books you love – Buying books we love and rushing back to the classroom to share them with our students is a great way to grow readers.