1. Ask for help from your circle of influence.
I promise you’ll feel a boost of support and be delighted by their response. Your friends, relatives, student’s parents (past and present, and everyone you know), gets that you are a dedicated educator. They have been looking for a way to let you know how much they love and support you.
Tell the story of what you are trying to create in your classroom: a culture of readers. Explain your current situation regarding books. Create a wishlist on Amazon and give them the link. Create a QR code that takes them directly to the list so they don’t have to fumble around. Make it simple, simple, simple for them to support you and your class.
2. Create a funding proposal through Donors Choose.
For two years in a row, I created proposals to fund books for my classroom library on Donors Choose. I’m going to share a link to one of my two projects, both of which were fully funded. Please feel free to shamelessly plagiarize my words, because I want you to get funded too.
You can access it here: Reading Like a Boss. Donors Choose will walk you through writing a proposal, so you don’t have to use mine as anything more than an example if you don’t choose to. Make it personal. Write with your heart.
When your proposal is funded, and you bet it will be, you will receive the shipment of books at your school.
Make a big deal of opening a box every day until they are all unpacked. Let the boxes sit on the floor at the front of the room and build their anticipation. It’s like opening a treasure chest. Do it up right and your students will be talking about it for weeks.
Take lots of pictures of the children’s faces. Donors Choose will expect evidence posted to your proposal and your donors will also want to see the results. If you ever plan on writing another proposal, it is important that people who funded you see the impact their donations had on the children’s reading lives.
3. Ask your school librarian to put your choices into her book budget.
Your school librarian can be your greatest ally, and perhaps already is. If your school librarian is open to ordering from a variety of publishers, and has the money to do so, then wow. Ask.
Give him or her access to your Amazon wishlist. Just make the assumption that they are overwhelmed and overworked too and give them a list of the books you’ve researched and know are award winning.
4. Ask a local bookshop to support your efforts.
A small town book store may either underwrite a portion of the cost of your class library or give you a discount on the books you buy. Lots of book and mortar bookstores give teacher discounts. Shop local.
5. Ask your principal for help, but be prepared with a proposal.
I’m not suggesting that you write a business plan, but honestly, the better prepared you are with a rationale, the better the chance that your administrator will say yes. What I’m saying is, think it through, set an appointment (don’t just drop in) and the likelihood of your getting a “yes” or higher.
A classroom library is not built in a year. You’ll know that you’ve been successful when you start looking for book shelves at garage sales because yours are full.