Enough Books

Three of my colleagues are planning our units for the year, discussing which books we’d like to teach. We decide we’d all like to teach The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian — because it is the only book in our book room that’s engaging for our reluctant ninth grade readers — for our novel unit. Only there are only about 40 copies of it in said book room. Not enough for each of us to even check out a class set at the same — or overlapping — times, let alone enough for us to check out books to each of our students. You know, in case they want to — or in case we’d like to assign them to — read at home.

Our immediate next step is to brainstorm additional sources of books and or book-buying dollars. This does not faze us. We instinctively know that our district’s actual education budget is a no-go. This does not faze us. We consider local business donations, small education grants, crowdsourcing websites of various sorts. It’s a good list, even if it’s not one we’d like to spend our time making.

We start to wind down the conversation, feeling accomplished. We have a plan.

One teacher looks skeptical. He does the math. “Even if we each do all of the options, we’re only probably going to get enough books for four class sets. We still won’t have enough for the kids to take home.”

The rest of us laugh. We can’t help it.

“Never in nine years,” a second teacher explains, “have I taught where I’ve had enough books for the kids to take home.”

It’s sad because it’s true.

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Posted in books, non-asana
6 comments on “Enough Books
  1. Lindsay says:

    Oh, that sucks.

    But I think it’s awesome that you’re thinking about assigning Sherman Alexie! He’s so great! (I haven’t read this particular book, but I’ve read two of his short-story collections).

    I’m sure your freshmen will have *NO* trouble reading him, and might even enjoy it. :)

  2. Lindsay says:

    (I did not discover his awesomeness until taking a Native American Literature class in college, so I find it especially exciting that your students might be introduced to him in high school.)

  3. Anna says:

    Maybe you could somehow solicit donations of people’s unused Bookman’s credit — there are probably quite a few copies for sale at the three local Bookman’s locations. I mean, that wouldn’t solve the problem, but might be a way to get your hands on some more copies of the book.

    Heck, maybe you could even strike up a deal with Bookman’s and submit a “wish list” or something. They could save copies of these books for you when people bring them in, and sell them to you at a reduced rate. I dunno, just brainstorming.

    • Tori says:

      Yup. Bookman’s is already on our brainstorming list. :)

    • Matt says:

      I agree about Bookmans credit. It’s probably not a likely way to source copies of the book, but you could also ask one of the store employees if they ever end up with copies of it in their “dreck pile.” I volunteer with a books-to-prisoners program, and we’ve rummaged through their dreck pile at times. It’s stuff that’s taken to the trade counter and left there–either because of absent-mindedness or because the customer asked them if they could just toss whatever items they didn’t want to take in for trade.

      I know other books-to-prisoners programs also use Amazon wish lists as a way to get the high-demand books they need.

      Another possibility is asking Libtrotraficante (http://librotraficante.com/) if they could loan you copies of that book by mail. I think Alexie might be one of the authors they seek for their “underground library.”

      Good luck!

      • Tori says:

        There are also a couple of ways we can get smaller grants (probably collectively) and crowdsource (probably individually, which means 4 of us can seek donations at once) — which are more likely to be able to get us the quantity of copies we need.

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