How to Hold a Book Swap at Your School

Whether the school library has suffered from funding cuts or the same books have graced its shelves for quite some time, you can rekindle a love for reading with a no-cost book swap for all of the students at your child’s school. Work together with your school’s administrative staff and get your child involved in the project to encourage her creative side and her love of reading, too.

Talk to the school’s administrative staff about your ideas for the book swap. Present the idea, explain that no financial contribution is required on behalf of the school or students, and obtain permission to host the event.

Write a letter to the parents of the school's students to let them know about the book swap and asking for their contributions. Include information about the types of books you'll accept -- such as second-hand books are just fine as long as they are in good condition, and the books should be geared toward the ages of the children in your school.

Make fliers or posters to hang in the school halls to remind students and visiting parents about the upcoming swap. Get your own children involved by having them help to color and decorate the posters. Bring the completed advertisements to the school and ask to have them posted -- with the school’s permission, of course.

Organize the collection of books from students. You can create bins from cardboard boxes for the kids to leave the books in and then visit each classroom at the end of the week to collect the bins. Alternatively, you can leave a single, large box outside of the school’s office or get permission to collect the books from the classrooms daily.

Ask the school staff to include a reminder about the book swap during the morning announcements in the days leading up to the event.

Transform one of the school’s tables into the locale of the book swap. You can set up the swap in the school’s library, gymnasium, outside of the office or any other location that is acceptable to the administrative staff. Arrange the books for swap on the table according to reading level and genre.

Make the swap. Have the kids come visit the swap table during break time, before or after school, or during class time with the staff’s permission. You can enforce a limit to the number of books each student can take or let the kids take a bunch if there are plenty to go around.


If you’re an environmentally conscious parent, skip the printed letters to send home to parents and ask the school’s administrative staff to include the letter on their website or in their online newsletter. If the school doesn’t yet have a website, you can bring up the idea at the next parent council meeting or talk to the office staff on your next visit to the school. Book swaps often result in the permanent exchange of books -- the new owner keeps the book indefinitely. However, if you'd rather encourage children to share their books with one another, you can organize the swap with a few extra steps. Before kids bring in their books, have parents write their names inside the front cover of each one. As you collect the books, write down the book title and owner. When it’s time to swap, write down the name of the borrower, too, and have all the kids return the books for another swap after 2 weeks.