Take Home Readers & Class Library

It seems like you never have too many books when you are a teacher.  I like to have more than one copy for:
  • Author study 
  • Social studies or science unit 
  • Leveled readers for take home readers or Daily 5 
  • Class Library 
Books are a great teacher tool.  Unfortunately, most districts do not provide class libraries or take home readers. Setting this up can be costly if you are a new teacher or are switching grade levels. Where are the best places to find inexpensive books?

Thrift stores: Great prices - especially around the holidays! Books can be purchased at many for 25 - 50 cents.
Garage sales: Many people will sell you bags of books for very little money if you show them your school ID.
Scholastic Book Clubs: Use points to order books. This is a great way to order sets of books for your reading groups.
Parents: Add a note to your newsletter each month asking for gently used books. Many parents are happy to donate books when they know they are going to a good cause.

Once you set up your class library and take home readers another pricey problem occurs. The "missing book syndrome" is a source of frustration for many teachers. You send home books with your students but somehow the book never returns to school. You ask the student where the book is, you send home notes, email the parent, call the parent, yet the book never returns to school. A book that you spent personal money, took time to level, add to your collection, is now gone forever. What can you do?

I have tried a variety of things through the years. Writing my name on the inside cover. Nope! This did not help. Put colored dot stickers on the spine of the book showing which collection the book belonged to. Nope! There are other books at the thrift store with dots. Parents also shop at thrift stores.

I needed to make my books easy to identify from the student's books at home. Tape was the answer to this problem.
I put tape around the edges of the front and back cover. You can easily see the tape when you look at the book without opening a page of the book. I added tape to the hinge of the book, too. I found my books also lasted longer with the tape along the edges of the covers of my books. At the end of the year when I am collecting my books, I remind my students and parents to look through their books at home for books that have tape on the covers. I had a larger percentage of my take-home readers returned when I did this.

If you are like me and have a huge collection of books, the thought of adding tape to your thousands of books seems like a insurmountable challenge. There are a few things you can do to make this less painful.

The only supplies you need are return address labels and tape.

Start Small: How many books do you need at the beginning of the year for take-home readers? Collect that many readers and put them in a tub along with the supplies you'll need. Do you work on this type of thing while you watch t.v. in the evening? Put the tub next to your chair and do a few each night. Soon your tub of books will be finished. That sense of accomplishment will motivate you to go collect another tub of books. Taking "small bites" of this project is the key!
You can also ask a parent volunteer to do this for you. I would organize this for the parent like the suggestion above. Give the parent the supplies and a tub of books. Don't show your parents the 2,432 books that you need to be leveled and taped or he/she will be overwhelmed.
Make it a party! Invite your teacher friends to bring their tub of books over. It is much more fun to work on a project like this when chit chatting with friends.

Have you found a good source to level your books? When I go to the thrift store, I usually purchase the Scholastic books because I know I can find the reading level information for those books on the Scholastic Book Wizard. You can get that information:
I also find information about books on the Level It app. I am not always able to find information about every book or it might give the Lexile level but not the Guided Reading level.

I like to level my books by grade level, guided reading level, DRA, and Lexile. You never know when you may switch schools or your school may decide to switch to a different format. By doing it this way, I don't get as stressed when there is some change that is introduced.

BOOK BOX GIVEAWAY: I have been hosting "Need Books" giveaways on my Facebook page. Make sure you follow my page so you can enter each time I am hosting a book box giveaway.

These book giveaways are a great way to help stock or replenish your class libraries or take home readers.

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