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How to find free and cheap books

I just had an email from Samantha Song, a former student now teaching first grade in Somerville, MA, with a universal question that that I want to pass along to all of you. Here’s what she said:

I’d like to pick your brain on an issue I’m having. I was a last minute hire and was left with a pretty messy classroom with a sparse library and very few enriching texts. I’m not familiar with the Boston area as well as you and would love your advice on where I can find cheap books for my classroom. In NYC, there is Project Cicero where teachers can pick up donated books for free. Do you know of any organizations that donate books to classrooms in this area? 

I’d like to extend this question to you, wherever you live. In addition to free books for teachers, what about really inexpensive? In the Boston area, the go-to place for heavily discounted children’s books is New England Mobile Book Fair (not mobile and not a book fair, but it IS a teacher’s dream come true). If you are a publisher or organization who has free or cheap books, tell us about yourself.

Here at the Horn Book we donate books to worthy non-profits, but at the moment we are maxed out with our existing recipients and can’t handle any more requests. But there ARE programs out there, like the recently-launched Boston KidLit Exchange which helps match up donors with libraries. I don’t know if that includes classroom libraries, but it’s worth a try.

I’m hoping we can use the comments section to make some of these well-kept secrets a little LESS secret. Whether you know about free/cheap books or have some to donate, tell us!

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. In my corner of Ohio, Goodwill is a great place to find good quality, cheap books.

  2. Lolly Robinson Lolly Robinson says:

    That’s a good point, Tracy. With so few second hand bookstores accepting review copies, I tend to donate any books I can’t keep to Goodwill or Salvation Army. When I moved and downsized a year ago, I must have given them at least 200 children’s books — good ones that I had kept for a reason!

  3. Used Book Superstore in Burlington, MA and Danvers, MA is a great place to stock up for the classroom library. They also have coupons and additional sales if you sign up for their email.

  4. Friends of the Library Book Sales! My public library has them every other month, but some like the public library in Quincy have their Library Book Store twice a week. You can find lots of books for around $.50 / $1 each.

  5. Savers stores often have a used book section that is very inexpensive. And there is one next door to the Used Book Superstore in Danvers that Jen mentioned above!

  6. Eric Carpenter says:

    Goodwill is great for inexpensive books. I also found public library book sales offer a great bang for your buck. Many library bound books as well as books patrons have donated for the sale.
    Getting great student participation in monthly scholastic book club orders quickly translates to lots of points. Just be careful with some of the paperbacks, the scholastic stapled binding will not last long in a classroom library.

  7. you can get cheap ebooks from this site ( ), it has a request and ebook page as well where you can request any ebook you want , all the ebooks are within 5$ (mostly)

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