Paperback Exchange

Every student has at least a few paperback books at home that they have read and then set aside to collect dust. Bring new life to these books by having a Paperback Exchange.

One way to set up the exchange is to have each of your students bring in one or more books that they would like to exchange for a different one. Set up a miniature bookstore or library in your classroom and have the students devise a way to organize the books – this will make “shopping” for a new book easier. What makes a bookstore different from a library? Are the books organized the same way? Do students have favorite authors or favorite subjects?

The more books there are to choose from, the better this activity will work. Consider involving other classes at the same grade level for even more variety. Your librarian would probably be happy to help out too, possibly by hosting the exchange in the library or involving different grade levels for a school-wide exchange. Often, the librarian also has books that can be added to the exchange. Invite him or her to help your class organize their books.

This recycling effort is also great for the environment. Discuss with the students how this keeps the books out of the trash by reusing them. What can you do to help these books last even longer? Discuss how leaving a book in direct sunlight can weather a book even faster, making the pages yellow and brittle. Contact paper can be applied over the cover of a book to make it more durable. (This can be a little tricky for younger children to apply.) There are also special kinds of type make just for book bindings. T2T contributor Mary Haga recommends Aleene’s Tacky Glue (in the gold bottle) for repairing loose pages – paperback or hardback. This glue is thicker than Elmer’s Glue and more flexible. She recommends storing the bottle upside down so it doesn’t take so long to get the glue out. Use it for single or multiple pages by applying a thin line of glue and then reattaching the page. Prop the book open until the glue dries so that it doesn’t stick to other pages.

As the books get worn out they will eventually need to be recycled. Most paperbacks are printed on newsprint and can be recycled with newspaper. Have students examine the books and determine how they might be recycled in the future.