Books glorious books. Ask anyone associated with schools at the moment what is the biggest challenge facing education currently and more often than not you’ll get the same response: Budget. Or lack of off to be more precise.

How do we provide for more children, a better quality of the education with less money to do it? Simply, we can’t. We can’t continue to operate in the same ways anymore and we can’t pretend that this lack of cash will somehow magically sort itself out.

So, what can we do? Well we need to find alternative ways of giving our kids what they need and what has been proven time and time again to help drive standards and positive outlooks to education: books.

But ‘books are expensive’ I hear you cry! Well, have no fear because here are my top tips on how to fill your school or classroom library for free… well almost.


Public perception is a tricky beast to manage, how can we ask for help whilst still ensuring our community that their child’s education won’t suffer? Simply, with honesty, people aren’t daft and a short piece in a local paper asking for any unwanted books to be donated to the school can go a long way. Most local papers will run a short piece for free especially if you are using it as the launch of a new reading initiative etc. Simply asking your local community to drop any unneeded books off can result in hundreds of books landing on your desk in weeks. Give it a go.


Completing a simple form online can see you become one of Tesco’s three charities in your local store. You know the system, people buy some shopping and place their token in the one they most want to support. Now most people think that only the winner gets some money, this is not the case with even the third placed option receiving £1,000. That’s a lot of books and when potentially coupled with Point 1 you could end winning and receiving a whopping four grand! Pretty nice for one simple form and yes schools are eligible.


Many schools purchase from Amazon whether that’s books or glue sticks most have an account now (if you don’t then get one). This means that you can create a Wishlist particularly for your school. Now some don’t like this idea – apparently giving parents the chance to gift things to the school is wrong? However, in the first week of the Wishlist being open we received over 100 brand new books, parents included gift notes which now form a corridor display and everyone of our classrooms has a box of brand new non-fiction books. Parents, grandparents even the local vicar, understand that for us to have purchased these books privately would have cost us thousands of pounds we simply don’t have. Worth noting this can be done through an independent book store (as many people on EduTwitter told me) however we wanted to make this as easy, cheap and user friendly for our community as possible and Amazon was easily the best way.


Perhaps you do have some loose change down the back of the staff room sofa or under the PE benches. What do you spend it on? Now as enticing as it is to run to the nearest book store and grab the latest release it is imperative to bargain hunt for maximum book numbers. Many outlets – think The Works and Waterstones – offer Buy one Get one Free etc. However even better than that is the used section on Amazon (other sites are available but I have always found them the cheapest. For example, Piers Torday’s brilliant >The Last Wild< is currently £6.57 new on Amazon or you can get one for 50p in the Amazon used section.


Whilst not always a guaranteed win, the charity shop bargain bins are often a source of much hidden treasure especially for books that have been out a few years. Ask to buy books in job lots and they will often do you a deal too. Twitter is awash with photos of people’s successes and you really haven’t got anything to lose.


Work as a broader school community. If you are aiming to study >Brightstorm< for a term before you blow your entire budget (if you have one) on 15 copies of it, call round your local schools and see if anyone already has a collection. Can you borrow them? Get the local library service in nab as many books off them as possible for as long as possible. Put in your newsletter every week that the school would love any unwanted books from home and make a big thing of it in class when children do donate from their own collection.


All of the big publishing houses offer book fayres and in doing so the chance for your school to bring in extra rewards. This may come in the form of vouchers to be spent with them or extra copies of the books that the children have bought but if you aren’t already doing at least one a year, get on it.

Well that covers pretty much everything I feel. Obviously, there are more methods than those listed here but my main message would be – don’t be too proud to beg. We need to get books in hands, we need to get children reading and we need to ensure they have access to as wide a range of texts types as possible. Happy reading!

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