Beg, Borrow and Steal: The new teacher's pathways to a classroom library!

One must be resourceful when stocking one's classroom library (and one's personal library, at that). It is no small task.

Over the years, I've accrued titles by indeed begging, borrowing, and, in some cases, stealing. That is, if you consider helping oneself to titles left abandoned for months in various lost and found piles at various educational institutions stealing (those spoiled brats should have taken better care of their things!). Ok, ok, I also borrowed a few children's books from the elementary school at which I used to work for use with some ESL students I was tutoring and sort of forgot to return them. But could you possibly bring yourself to return An Octopus Followed Me Home Today? I didn't think so. Don't worry, my not working there anymore has nothing to do with Dan Yaccarino.

Anyhow, I managed to scramble up some titles while I was still paying for things on my college tab (things being a general category encompassing all that can be procured on the campus, from the Starbucks in the library to the drastically overpriced bookstore). This part isn't really me being resourceful. Just stupid. I wish I would have skipped the on-campus lattes. I probably would be paying $40 less a month (loan repayment commenced last month--yuck!). However, my English department had a huge bookcase full of books discarded by professor-- .50c for paperback, $1 for hardcover. In this respect, I was quite resourceful. I pillaged the supply at the start (and middle... and end) of each semester, and now have a modest collection of plays, everything from your stock Shakespeare to Dylan Thomas to Sophocles, and enough poem collections to last me a lifetime. Email from a professor that someone was clearing out an office and free books were up for grabs? I was there. And may still be, so long as they don't remove me from their address books just yet...

So recently, in a new attempt at resourcefulness, I went to the book trader with an enormous box of books from my mom. Although I've bought books at the book trader before, I've never actually traded books there. The deal is pretty sweet. The book trader gives the customer 20% of the marked price of the book in store credit. All in all I ended up with $50 credit. All of the books in the store are priced at 50% of the marked price (meaning the original price on the book, not on a tag or anything), so most of the y.a. novels run about $2.50-$3 tops. When the customer purchases new books, 50% of the total can be paid for with the credit from the trade. Thus, I ended up having to pay $15, as my total was $30. I still have $35 in credit, and I can't wait to use it!

Here are the 11 titles I picked up. I tried to go for a good mix between classics and contemporary authors and to mix up the genres:

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Edward Bloor, Tangerine

Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident (second in series)

Robert Cormier, I Am the Cheese and The Chocolate War

Nancy Farmer, A Girl Named Disaster (A Newbery Honor Book)

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Karen Hesse, Letters from Rifka (National Jewish Book Award) and The Music of Dolphins

Joyce Carol Oates, Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers

I'm really excited about the Oates short story collection. Because it is intended for writers, the anthology is codified by the type of writing being studied (Memoir, Dramatic Monologue, etc.). Thus, it makes an ideal resource for writing workshop mentor texts. The texts themselves are phenomenal, and range from pieces by Chekhov to Jean Rhys (Wide Sargasso Sea was a postcolonial lit fav!), from Kerouac to Kafka to Hurston to (barf) Hemingway.

Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust was a favorite of mine--a text I read back in my Young Adult Lit. course. I am looking forward to discovering all the new titles I found have to offer.

I haven't read the Artemis Fowl series yet. I'm reserving judgment. Even if I'm not thrilled with its literary merits, I have to remember that kids need a chance to read solely for enjoyment, too, and that this kind of reading does plenty for their reader selves.

So that's all for today. I managed to get through the H last names, besides the Oates anthology. I'm eagerly anticipating my next trip! Oh, and I've finished Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief and loved it. I will do a post on it soon.


SSCaldwell said...

Tangerine is a great book, if you haven't read it yet. And good job buying Artemis Fowl! I always think that's the hardest thing to spend money on, books I hate but the kids like. Oh I would love to punch Juney B. Jones in the face, but the kids really like her. A thing to remember: most adults who like to read were once kids who loved to read a stupid series. For me it was Babysitters Club.

teach people not books said...

thanks for the encouragement! it was a tough decision, but, like i said, i'd rather them read artemis fowl than nothing at all, or something they don't like. i was a sucker for the babysitters club myself! i think my favorite was the beach one...

i either read tangerine or it was a choice in my y.a. lit course, so i know the plot. which means it's one more book i can cross off my y.a. novel list, as i want to make sure i read anything that i put on my shelves.

Charlotte said...

Trading is great!

Another way teachers might be able to get books is to ask the Friends of their Library if they can preview the library's used booksales. I am more than happy to cut a sweet deal, or even give books away, to local teachers...because getting kids to read is the whole point of the thing, really.