Your Guide to Building a Classroom Library

by | Apr 12, 2023 | For Teachers | 0 comments

Summary of Key Points:

  • Classroom libraries can encourage your students to read and provide them with extra knowledge on the subjects you’re covering in class.
  • Fundraising events are a great way to acquire the money you’ll need to buy books for your classroom library. FutureFund has guides for running all kinds of different fundraisers—donation campaigns, pledge campaigns, and more.
  • For best results, give your classroom library a balance of books that will entice students (popular fiction, graphic novels, etc.) and books that support your curriculum.
  • Keep your classroom library inclusive and accessible by choosing books that are appropriate for the grade level of your students and reflect the diversity of your classroom.

Kids who read tend to have higher self-esteem and better strategies for dealing with difficult situations—so encouraging your students to read supports their education and quality of life. One of the best ways to do this is by building a library in your classroom, but classroom libraries can be big projects so it’s important to plan them carefully.

Don’t worry; FutureFund is here to help! Below, you’ll find all kinds of information to help you kickstart your classroom library, including tips on:

  • Running successful fundraisers so you can buy the books you’ll need
  • Stocking your library with books your students will need (and love)
  • Keeping your library active, inclusive, and organized
Hand dropping money into piggy bank on top of book stack to represent fundraising for classroom library

Via Adobe Stock.

Raising Money For Your Classroom Library

Books aren’t exactly cheap, so your library will probably require some startup capital. That doesn’t mean you need to buy every book brand new—after all, used bookstores exist and donation drives are a great way to collect books for your library without spending a cent!

However, there’s no guarantee that used bookstores will have all the books you’re looking for, or that people will donate books that are a good fit for your students, their interests, and their learning needs. So chances are good that at the end of the day, you’ll still need to buy a fair amount of new books for your library—and that means you’ll have to come up with the money to do it.

Finding Creative Fundraising Ideas

Raising money for your classroom is easier when you choose events and activities that attract attention. Here are a few ideas you can use to get started:

  • “A Thon” fundraisers, which are pledge campaigns where students sign up to participate in contests or challenges and collect donations from family and friends who want to sponsor them. Hold a Walk A Thon, Chess A Thon, or an “A Thon” based on any other activities your students are interested in. Learn how to run a pledge campaign here.
  • Purchase product campaigns where your school sells spirit wear or other merchandise to community members. Learn how to run a purchase product campaign here.
  • Fundraising dinners where your PTA serves food and charges guests per plate. These events can cost a little money to set up, but they can also bring in tons of cash—especially when you combine them with raffles, silent auctions, and other ways to raise money. Learn all about running a fundraising dinner here.

Raising Money Online with FutureFund

The ideas above are usually much easier to run when people are able to make donations, buy merch, or get tickets to your fundraising events online. Setting up an online store for your school or PTA in FutureFund means community members can make purchases and donations from anywhere 24/7, increasing the odds that you’ll meet your fundraising goals.

Students using classroom library

Via Adobe Stock.

Choosing the Right Books For Your Students

Once you’ve raised enough money for your classroom library, you’ll need to choose the books you want—or more appropriately, the books your students will want and need. Obviously, you want to pick out books that will entice students to use the library, but it’s also important to include books that support your curriculum and help them develop important skills.

Balance Is Everything

Here’s what we recommend for setting up a library that provides a well-rounded and constructive experience for your students:

  • Shoot for 10-20 books per student (or 300-600 books total for most classrooms)
  • Incorporate books with a variety of different formats (picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, etc.)
  • Make sure 40-50% of your books are fiction with a good variety of authors and themes
  • 40-60% of your books should be nonfiction books
  • Reference books like dictionaries, thesauruses, and encyclopedias should make up about 5% of your library’s collection
  • Keep your library current by ensuring that about 30% of the books have been published within the last 5 years
  • Keep multiple copies titles that are likely to be in higher demand
  • In addition to books, include other educational materials like magazines, digital resources, and art supplies
Multicultural group of students with different learning needs reading book

Via Adobe Stock.

Consider Your Students & Their Needs

It’s also vital to ensure that the books in your classroom library will be accessible and appropriate for your students. We recommend that you:

  • Include books suitable for a variety of reading levels
  • Books aimed at least three grades below and three grades above your classroom’s grade level
  • Books by authors and for students from a variety of different cultures and lifestyles
  • Books in different formats to support students with accessibility needs (like large-print or braille for students with visual impairments)

Finally, make sure you set clear policies and expectations for students who use the library—you might offer rewards or extra credit for reading a certain number of titles to keep your students interested, or have penalties for returning books late or leaving a mess. It’s also a good idea to organize your library (alphabetically, by subject, etc.) so that students can always find the books they need.

Making Your Library a Reality with FutureFund

Creating an excellent classroom library is easy when you raise enough money and use a little strategy to set it up. For more help getting the capital your library will need, book a demo with FutureFund and learn about the features you can use to collect donations, process payments, and more.

Your guide to building a classroom library