Dollar Store Idea Increases Students' Interest in Reading at Home

Back in July I had a fabulous Dollar Tree haul. I found these really adorable tote bags. When I saw them, I immediately knew what I would use them for. For nine years, my students have adored my extensive classroom library, which I try hard to keep stocked with books of interest each year. My first year of teaching, I let students take books home without any conditions. No extra sign out, no nothing. Well, let's just say that when I realized that 50 of those books were either missing or damaged beyond further use, I became a lot less liberal about loaning my books out. I changed my policy and told students that they were allowed to take out books from my classroom library but they were no longer allowed to take them home.

Of course, when I told my students who were really interested in the books they were reading that they couldn't take them home, I could barely stand to look at their adorable sad little faces. So...I gave in. Well, I kinda gave in. I decided to create a separate "going home" log where students would sign out books that they were taking home overnight. The catch was that they have to bring the book back to me each morning so that I can be sure that it is being well taken care of. If it wasn't, they would lose their "take a book home" privilege. This worked pretty well last year and I had far less books damaged than ever before. I felt great because students were excited to borrow and read my books and my collection wasn't getting damaged.

So, let's get back to those totes. Here is what they looked like:

They come in packs of 2 for $1.00! There are a variety of colors. I bought these two sets. 

After purchasing them, I brought them to work and took out my favorite puffy paint. I put cute sayings on the bags that I thought would appeal to both my male and female students (not too girly). Then, I decided that the bags needed a buddy to travel with the book and go home with the student. Hi ho, Hi ho, it's back to The Dollar Tree I go! Once there, I find the cutest little stuffed monkeys with velcro on their paws. I scoop up four of them and head back to the classroom. 

On the first day, I'm not sure how students will react to the idea of this little "Book Sleepover Bag". I tell students about it, but I can't tell if they are excited or not. So I open our classroom library and let them begin to take out books to have at their desk. I remind them that if they want to take the book home they will need to sign a separate sign out sheet at my desk. Students start to line up at my desk. Each one asks for a bag. Keep in mind that there are only four bags. All of a sudden, I have a line of 8 students and 4 are really disappointed to not get the bags. I'm making a mental note to get more but I am also doing the Snoopy dance in my head because my little idea is such a huge hit! Woohoo for Dollar Store ideas! 

Needless to say, I did go back and get more and we now have a collection of 10 bags and monkeys that are still in high demand! I've wiped out all of the monkeys from my local Dollar Tree before my secret gets out and other teachers in my school want to try it out too! Because really, how can I not tell them about this little Dollar Tree idea that I had that became such a big hit in my 5th grade classroom?

Who would've thought that these cute little bags would be in such high demand? 

Hope that all of my teacher friends and followers are keeping their heads above water during this very busy first month of school! Don't forget to take time for you now and then to keep at least SOME of your sanity! ;-)



  1. Replies
    1. Aren't they the cutest? I couldn't resist making sure I had one of each color! :-)

  2. SOOOO cute. What a wonderful idea. These are the times that I so very much miss teaching Language Arts. I'm solely science - and don't get me wrong - I LOVE science, but I long for the days of book studies, reading projects, and cute things like THIS. Found your blog through your comment on The Science Penguin. Following!! :)

    1. Thank you for the follow and the kind comments!

  3. Sooooo cute! I am so glad they are a hit for you!

    1. Me too! Now if I could just find enough for each student...I'm thinking I might make them each a personalized bag with stuffed animal and book for Christmas


Back to Top