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by Jenifer Gearhart

This past Friday evening, my boyfriend and I spent two hours in a used book store in an attempt to freshen up my classroom library shelves. His job was to find more “boy books,” and he did an excellent job. He did sit in the aisle for a few minutes out of exhaustion, but I’ve been known to do the same in bookstores. While wandering the shelves, we ran into another couple doing the exact same thing. This first year teacher was on a search for “boy books” and was working on starting her library. My total was somewhere around $80, which wasn’t horrible for 20 books. I don’t want to know how much the new teacher spent.

While any of my students who follow me on twitter are probably going to tease me for how I spent my Friday evening, we English teachers know the normalcy (and excitement) of buying new books for our classroom. We also think little of shelling out at least $20-$30 on a regular basis to refresh our library, or to get that one book that a reluctant reader needs.

Yet, we also know that those dollars add up. Statistics show that public school teachers spend at least $250 a year on classroom supplies (Let’s be honest, it can creep upwards of $500 some years, right?). English teachers and elementary school teachers can spend even more as we constantly add on to our classroom libraries.

We know what our kids need, so we do what we can to provide it. So, why do I feel guilty asking for financial help for my classroom?

I don’t.

As the WV teacher strike earlier this year reminded us, teachers, especially in our state, are both drastically underpaid and wonderfully resourceful. It also showed us how much our community desired to support us.

We should not feel guilty about asking others to help supply our classroom, especially when it comes to books.

In comes the Amazon Book Wish list.

One of my closest teacher buddies, Liz Keiper (@keiperet1) created an Amazon Wish List of books and passed it out to parents on orientation night, and then posted said wish list on her social media accounts.

Books have been pouring in for days. Because her friends, family, and community wanted to help support her and her classroom.

I did the same, and within hours, several dear friends purchased books for my students.

Donors Choose, Go Fund Me, and local grants have also been helpful in acquiring large sets for my classroom, but I am most excited about these small book donations. Those buying the new novels are friends and family who love me and love my students. They value what I am doing in the classroom, and they understand how significant it is for my students to have books that they can fall in love with.

After I posted my list, I had several former students and parents of students order books for my classroom. They see the value of independent reading because it helped them regain their love of reading.

Will I continue to buy books myself from used book stores, yard sales, and thriftbooks.com? Yep, I most definitely will. But I am also loving the book-love arriving at my doorstep this week.


1 Comment

Cheryl Stahle · August 27, 2018 at 4:52 pm

I totally feel you pain! I moved to 11th grade this year and need all sorts of new materials to help my kids. I teach inclusion so multiple versions of books are critical. I have put together a Donors Choose to buy side by side and graphic novels to help my kids with Hamlet. Sadly, I’m not getting much of a response. It takes a village for sure.

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