• Perhaps you can lend them a book or two from your your own collection. We know building your classroom library can be a challenge. “In Search of Free Books” from WETA’s Reading Rockets lists several literacy organizations that give books to lower elementary students, but finding free books for older kids can be more difficult. The article does link to several national civic organizations whose local chapters may donate books or run fundraisers for book purchases. The Rotary Club website includes a guide to literacy and resources for accessing books. Another possibility: with support from Proctor and Gamble, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs offers $150 grants to its clubs to foster literacy, including purchasing books. Check with clubs in your area.
• In addition to making the case for summer reading, “Endangered Minds,” the second chapter of Kelly Gallagher’s book Readicide, lists suggestions for building your classroom library at limited or no cost throughout the year. Read his ideas (beginning on p. 52) in this free PDF download.
• If your students have access to the internet, they can read e-books in the public domain at Project Gutenberg. And you might help them explore the Google Books project for complete titles (or samples) of interest.
• Many public libraries now provide downloadable books at no cost. Here’s one example of a regional library system that offers downloadable books in formats that can be read on laptops, tablets or smartphones. LibriVox offers free public domain audiobooks read by volunteers.
• To get your hands on actual books in a hurry, you may find yourself combing the shelves of used book stores and thrift shops, spending your own money or donations you've managed to secure. You can also try swapping books online. Several book swap sites have child and teen sections searchable by title and author. Most sites operate by having postage available online for you to purchase to mail books wanted by others. Then the books you request are free. Several sites credit you one point per book.
Bookins.com awards points based on the value of each book. Unlike other sites, Bookins adds about $1.00 to its postage fee as a service charge and guarantees delivery. TitleTrader.com has a premium service for $19.95 a year. Other sites have or are considering a similarly priced service. Both BookMooch.com and PaperBackSwap.com allow members’ points to be donated to selected schools and libraries. All offer swaps for paperbacks and hardbacks. Some include audio books.
• With summer vacation so near, a stop-gap method to encourage summer learning as you build your own library is to encourage parents to enrich their children’s summer literacy experience. Find suggestions in “Get Ready for Summer! Ideas for Teachers to Share with Families” from Reading Rockets.
If you have other ideas or tried-and-true strategies for getting books into the hands of summer readers, please share them by commenting on this post! – Susan Curtis, MiddleWeb