How many books do I need and how much do I budget?

How many books do I need and how much do I budget?

This is a common question. It is really important and complex question. And it all depends on your model of instruction. Most people follow a reading and writing workshop model of some kind.

Your book collection should include books for:

  • Read Alouds & Writing Mentor Texts - these books are generally large in size (not necessarily big books, but hardcover and well-illustrated like a coffee table book).
  • Guided Reading – these books are smaller and very specific to content or reading level.
  • Independent Reading – these books are all of the above and also include all books in a series or by a specific author.

 When determining how many Read Aloud or Mentor Texts are needed for a classroom, I consider the grade level and how you will use the books. I would also encourage teachers to have their own collection that is NOT included in the classroom library. Classroom libraries are for students independent reading time and their needs to be an abundance of books. Read Alouds should be deliberate and thoughtful. In order for teachers to thoughtfully plan for this instruction, they will need a copy for planning and instruction. I spent countless hours hunting down a book I wanted to use for instruction. Looking for it in books boxes, going to the school and public library, buying it off Amazon, and more often just giving up. If we truly want to support high-quality instruction then we need to provide teachers with these resources, so they can turn their hunting energy into thoughtful planning. Considering this we recommend:

Grade Levels

Number of Books/Week

Total Number of Books

K - 1st

1-2

36 – 72

2nd – 3rd

1 – 1 ½

36 – 54

4th – 5th

1/3 - 1

13 - 36

 

Read Aloud and Mentor Text Budget

Grade Levels

Average Cost of a Book

Total Cost

K - 1st

$15

$540 - $1,080

2nd – 3rd

$12

$432 - $648

4th – 5th

$12

$156 - $432

 *Based on a 36-week school year and full day schedules.

 

When determining Guided Reading book collections, Fountas and Pinnell published a few charts in their 1999 book, Matching Books to Readers. Given this was published nearly 20 years ago, the pricing is a bit outdated, but I think the numbers are still valid.

Reading Levels

Starter Collection

(Number of Titles)

Basic Book Collection (Number of Titles)

Total Number of Titles

A – J

10

20

36 – 72

K - R

10

15

36 – 54

S

2

10

13 - 36

 

Guided Reading Text Budget

Grade Levels

Average Cost of a Book (updated)

Total Cost

6 Book Set

12 Book Set

A – J

$8

$288 - $1,080

$1,728

$3,456

K - R

$12

$432 - $648

$2,592

$2,592

S

$10

$130 - $360

$780

$1,560

 

Finally, Classroom Libraries can be the most flexible. Your investment in them really speaks to how much you’d like to prioritize it. Most of the recent reading research shows how powerfully positive choice reading opportunities lead to successful readers. This is greatly attributed to the most basic factor of students reading is their interest in the topic or story. If they are interested, then they will engage and are motivated to read.  In my blog post, We Need More Books, I reference the numbers suggested by different reading experts cited in It’s All About the Books by Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan on page 3. Those numbers are below along with an estimated budget. 

Classroom Library Budget

Reading Expert

Suggested Number of Books

Total Cost

(Based on $10/book)

Fountas & Pinnell

300-600

$3,000 - $6,000

American Library Association

300

$3,000

Lucy Calkins

$30/child x 25 students

$750

Kelly Gallagher

2,000

$20,000

 

This is just an initial place to start your planning, if you are interested in support with developing your book collection, Books del Sur works with schools and districts in a three-step process.  Step 1: Gather Data and Evaluate the Collection, Step 2: Analyze Data, Align with Priorities, and Create a Plan, Step 3: Current Spanish Book Collection Audit and Book and Professional Development Recommendations.

Book an initial meeting with the founder, Heather Robertson-Devine to get you started for FREE! 

 Key Resources

Fountas, Irene C., and Gay Su. Pinnell. Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3. Heinemann, 1999.

 

Mulligan, Tammy, and Clare Landrigan. It's All about the Books: How to Create Bookrooms and Classroom Libraries That Inspire Readers. Heinemann, 2018.

 

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