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Getting ready for the $4 Book Drive

At the beginning of the summer, I pledged that I would add 100 books to my classroom library in preparation for the One Million Word Challenge.

I’m happy to report that I’ve reached my goal! My friends and anonymous donors have generously given to my projects. DonorsChoose, especially in combination with Facebook, has helped me get the word out, and it feels like a little reading revolution has emerged.

It’s time to keep up the momentum, so I’m thinking of getting my students’ parents involved this year. I’m going to encourage families either (1) to donate a favorite book to my classroom library, or (2) to give $4.

Why $4?

Well, it turns out that there are many, many excellent teen books on Amazon that cost 1 cent plus $3.99 shipping and handling (sometimes less). A lot of books. Apparently, used book sellers set the price so low because they can make a small profit by undercutting the postage.

There are many things I like about the $4 Book Drive idea. First, it’s not a huge amount of money. It’s doable. If you give me a $5 bill, you’ll even receive a dollar back! Second, families want to feel like they’re contributing to their child’s education, especially given California’s budget cuts. It’s even better that a book can be reread over and over again by many students. Last, it doesn’t require too many complex steps. Sure, I can direct parents to my new classroom library wishlist on Amazon, but that’s unnecessarily complicated.

Of course, I can’t require my parents to donate to the $4 Book Drive. We’re a public school, after all. But imagine if the parents of just half of my 80 ninth graders decide to participate. That’s another 40 books, another shelf to my classroom library, another 2.5 million words to read.

Please share your brilliant insights!