The teaching profession tends to attract a certain type of person. Teachers are often patient and caring people, who are willing to take on the challenge of connecting with and educating the next generation.

Charged with this task, they build their classrooms to give their students what they need to learn. Responding to an overwhelming thirst for hard copy books, some teachers have to find creative ways to go above and beyond to meet the students’ expectations.

One of these teachers is Mme. Sinden, or Leigh to her family and friends. Leigh teaches grade four and five French immersion at John Young Elementary in Kanata, and her kids love books.

“I couldn’t imagine not having books in my classroom,” she says. “Kids love to read and that’s not going to go anywhere. Even children who play video games for hours on end love to read in my classroom.”

Building a classroom library can be expensive for a teacher, as it’s a feature that isn’t necessarily provided by either the school or school board. But it’s something that students in Leigh’s classroom want.

Luckily, Leigh found a secret: The Friends of the Ottawa Public Library Association (FOPLA). Through FOPLA’s used bookstores, Leigh was able to provide her students with books without spending a fortune.

“I’ve probably bought between 150 and 200 books,” she says. It is a substantial classroom library, but at between $0.50- $1.50 per book, it’s a much more manageable investment.

One of the greatest challenges for Leigh’s classroom library is tracking down French books.

“It’s hard for me to find French books for my students, and they cost significantly more,” says Leigh. This is one of the reasons that FOPLA’s monthly Mammoth Sale has become one of her favourite spots for book hunting. The sale has a great variety and selection, and includes French children’s books and novels.

The first time Leigh went to a FOPLA Mammoth Sale was with a fellow teacher who had heard about the great selection and prices, so she decided she had to check it out. Since then, she’s been spreading the word to other teachers.

“I recommend it to new teachers looking to expand their classroom library on a budget,” Leigh says.

Beyond the great prices, Leigh actually prefers getting second-hand books for her students. She works hard to encourage her students to build positive relationships with literature, and one simple tactic she uses is to show her students that other people have read and loved the books before.

“I like that they are previously enjoyed books so that my students can see that people have enjoyed the book too. It changes their relationship with [the books],” says Leigh.

Reading has been shown to have a positive impact on education and cognitive development, a concept Leigh is quite familiar with. As a passionate teacher, she’s always looking for ways to support her lessons and engage her students. Books are one of her students’ favourite tools, and FOPLA has become an organization she depends on to help her get her students excited about reading and prepare them for the future.

If you’re a teacher, childhood educator, or just a passionate reader, we’d love to hear from you about how FOPLA books have made an impact to you. Or find more details about FOPLA’s monthly Mammoth Sale, bookstores, and specialty sales to start building your library today.