Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ninja's Guide to Novels

One of my biggest responsibilities as an ESOL ninja is to help my students develop a love (or at least a tolerance) for literacy.  Since there is often a mismatch between my students' interests/reading levels and the materials available in the storage room, I have invested a significant amount of my own hard-earned money in this endeavor over the years.  Here are some ways I have learned to cut costs as I continue to add to my classroom collection.

Jeff Kinney is an example of an author that has managed to hook in reluctant readers.  While I believe in exposing students to a variety of literature, I have found that my students' initial willingness to complete at-home reading logs directly correlates to how many Diary of a Wimpy Kid books I happen to have available in my classroom library. Aware that I was looking for books to add to my classroom stash, my friend Pittsburgh convinced me that bargains could be found at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale.  Since Pittsburgh always finds such good deals on hotel rooms at the beach, I took her word for it and canceled my afternoon plans to sit by the pool.  Lo and behold, I purchased multiple Jeff Kinney books as well as close to twenty other recommended titles for around $75.00.  I even allowed Pittsburgh to have me added to the mailing list.

As expected, I have experienced luck with purchasing used books on Ebay and its sister site half.com.  In addition to purchasing several classroom libraries (use the search term "lot of books"), I have found that with patience, it is possible to purchase a class set of novels.  In fact after purchasing several copies of a novel this past summer, I took a chance and contacted the seller.  He turned out to be a fellow educator and sold me the additional copies I needed for $1 each.  He even honored my request to bundle all of my orders into one, so I saved on shipping.  My latest find has been 18 copies of Gary Soto's Local News for $25.00.

Firstbook.org offers brand-new books to teachers in qualifying districts at a fraction of the cost.  The list of qualifying districts is pretty extensive and let's face it, if you're purchasing your own teaching materials out of pocket, your district is probably on the list.  The material available through this website is constantly updated and they even take title requests.  My biggest bargain of the year has been a class set (35 copies) of novels for under $50.00.

If you are unable to find a full set of novels for your class at a bargain price, your local library may be able to help fill in the gap.  The county library systems in my area offer bundling services for teachers. In general, a friendly librarian will seize every copy of a particular title within the library system for teachers with a valid ID.  It's worth a shot and the cost is a teacher-friendly free.

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