The process of determining which books are to be used in a school classroom is historically controversial. The study shows that textbooks in elementary and high school are often acquired based on economic and political reasons rather than educational considerations. Moreover, major textbook publishers often influence school decision about required or supplementary text. If the school adopted the new book as required text then students have to buy it. This, in reality, is helping publisher make money out of school adoption.
However, not all students can buy required books and many actually result to borrowing books from libraries, friends, photocopying text, or buying used second-hand books. In some developing countries, for instance, the teacher has the only textbook in the class. In particular, most public school systems are underfunded and cannot provide new books. The lack of reading materials is further complicated by the fact that these students are relying on outdated materials. For instance, findings of study conducted in developing Asian countries suggests that lack of textbooks and adequate teaching and learning materials result in low student achievement. In contrast, students’ achievement was higher in schools with more textbooks.
Teachers are “gatekeepers” of academic books or the people who have the knowledge and power to recommend the most appropriate textbook for their class. Teachers are powerful actors shaping the content that students are likely to use in their studies. They influence students’ decisions on the kind of books to read and prevent them from wasting time and money on buying books that are not essential to specific classroom tasks.
Benefits of Second Hand and Used Books
Books required in higher education are often expensive but bookstores nowadays are selling new and used books. Some student government operated bookstores are also selling used books at a much cheaper price than those offered in regular bookstores. Most of these books were collected from “book drives”, a campaign where discarded books are deposited in a donation bin at school.
College students’ organizations are also selling and buying used books. Book exchange provides opportunities for people to sell back their used books at a reasonable price. Students can also buy from online bookstores and wait for shipping.
Books, regardless of age are reliable and accurate sources of information. Most teachers depend on books for factual, scholarly, and in-depth inquiry. Old but gently used books are a good source of reading materials and facilitate extensive reading at home.
Inequities in students’ access to books outside the classroom can be resolved by soliciting used books. In fact, many persevering and diligent teachers built their classroom libraries from used books purchased by parent-teacher organizations from garage sales. This library of used books contains easily accessible multicultural literature that can help students see themselves, appreciate their own and others culture and language.
Book Fairs are not only great way to collect, sell, and raise funds but influential in motivating people to read. Book Swap, on the other hand, enhances social networks of literary enthusiast. Similarly, book hunting through garage sales encouraged students to read some or all the books they find during school break.