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Saving Summer: Book money.

This is a “before” picture while cleaning up my classroom before summer break. This represents about 1/3 of my classroom library. It did get organized, eventually.

I buy books. I buy too many books — well, there are never enough books, but yes, I do wish my district would buy more. The tug-of-war between the decision makers and the stakeholders (teachers and students) never seems to end. And while I scour for on-line freebies, curate as many titles as I can, nothing beats a new book, and especially, the right book, in the hands of a student who says they don’t like to read.

This thread on Twitter got my attention:

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This idea that children want their own things shouldn’t be overlooked or dismissed. It seems parents hand them cell phones instead of books. Understandable. I have no issue, nor should anyone, ever say one word about a student having things that make them feel special, included, and just plain good: cell phones, new shoes, the right snapback or glitter pens. This isn’t about how parents spend their money. Or teachers. It’s about how districts view books and book lending. It becomes punitive and constrictive. How many times have I heard “I hate to read!” when it may be more of a function of “I hate worrying about other people’s *!*$!” It is the NEW book, the ownership of a book, that makes a huge difference. No one to boss or manage the time spent reading, or being given “responsibility” of reading in class, bringing the text to and fro, possibly being charged a fine if it’s lost or damaged. (I have had countless copies of Cut by Patricia McCormick go missing.)

Next year I’m looking at spending around $180 on enough copies of Lord of the Flies. I can go to Donor’s Choose and maintain that post, and jump through new bureaucratic hoops my district set up. I can ask GoFundMe for some money, which feels awful since the last GoFundMe I gave to was a young man murdered by police. Yes, he was one of ours.

So, tell me, this community of mine, how do I get new books that children can choose, keep, and read without operating in my own bank account in the negative (yes, I do). Is it possible to change the mindset of the spending at the district level to alter how they distribute funds for books? Am I just asking naive and pointless questions? Probably.

It’s easier just to fill up the Amazon cart with what I want and move on. And I know why I’m always broke. But hey, if that new copy of The Hate U Give I gave to a student before the summer showed her how much I adore her, it’s a small price to pay.

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