Reading Goldmines

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

I’ve long been an advocate of charity shops being an absolute goldmine when it comes to finding amazing books at unbelievable prices (and when I say unbelievable, I mean it with conviction).

Over the past few weeks alone I’ve stumbled across some real treasure troves where I’ve literally bought Julia Donaldson and Anthony Browne best sellers for 50p each. And while the ‘bargain’ nature of these finds excites me – the fact that these books had never been opened also greatly saddens me.

On the one hand, charity shops are an under tapped resource for populating school libraries or home book shelves at a greatly reduced cost. On the other, they indicate that books are not being valued as much as they should be (and I don’t mean in the monetary sense).

books in a charity shop

The fact that there are so many of these lovely books – mostly picture books – in charity shops, is indicative of the fact that the potential of the picture book to support children’s reading development is vastly undervalued.

And the misperception that picture books are designed to help children to learn to read, before they progress on to ‘proper’ books – is most definitely misplaced. I talked about this previously when we looked back at the #ReadingRocks event, where Mathew Tobin shared some fantastic ideas on using the power of the picture book with primary reading. The picture book is also a fantastic tool for using with Accelerated Reader as part of whole class reading and discussion.

While it pains me to see so many books in charity shops which have never had a page turned, at the same time I think it’s a great source of amazing books which won’t break the bank. Plus, now is also an ideal time of year to go on a hunt, what with many houses having a post-Christmas clear out to make way for all the new things… If you find a goldmine of a charity shop, or a gem of a bargain book find , tweet me @MargaretCAllen, I would love to hear from you.


Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.



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