One of the things I hear from teachers is, “I’d love to teach your book, but my district has absolutely no money.” As a sixth-grade English teacher in California, it’s a situation I know well. Budgets are frozen, and where we once had department or library funds, we now have nothing. We haven’t even THOUGHT about purchasing new textbooks for years now.
But as an author and a teacher, it’s important to know that there ARE ways to get money for books: grants. I know, I know; you hear that word and think of research and forms and painstaking writing.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
Recently, I fell in love with Jill Corcoran’s book, Dare to Dream . . . Change the World. Having worked for nearly a decade in educational publishing and developed curriculum for many companies, I couldn’t wait to use the poems in that book as the backdrop for an awesome poetry unit. A friend and I developed a teacher’s guide for it (insert link) and I was all set. Except I needed more books. I needed a grant and I needed it quickly.
Where do I find grant money?
My school is great about letting teachers know about grant opportunities. Our local rotary club and even some businesses give out yearly grants. The grant that I applied for was through Delta Kappa Gamma Society that awards money to women educators. But there are also TONS of grants available online. Check out this site: http://www.donorschoose.org/teachers. Teachers request money for a certain project and people who want to support teachers donate to those projects they think are worthy. It’s really easy.
But isn’t writing a grant difficult and time-consuming?
It took me about half an hour. I just described what I wanted to do. I came up with a catchy title and then laid out why I wanted these books and why students were going to benefit from them. I had to put in a few prices and do a little math but then it was done. Two weeks later, I had the money I needed to buy enough copies of Dare to Dream. . . Change the World to use in my classroom.
And here’s another cool part. Some companies, like Kane-Miller (Dare to Dream’s publisher), have MATCHING GRANT programs. Kane-Miller matches 50% from the first dollar, however when you reach the $200 mark, you benefit from free shipping. To find out if a book’s publisher has such a program, it’s a simple phone call to their distributor. For Kane-Miller the number is 1-800-611-1655.
But I’m an author, not a teacher. So why do I care?
It’s good to know about some of the grants available in your area. Know if your publisher offers matching grants or discounts for teachers. So when a teacher says, “I love your book but I don’t have enough funds to get a class set,” or “I’d love to have you come speak at my school but we don’t have the money,” you can immediately say, “Have you thought about applying for this grant?” and you might even have the form available for them!
In addition, consider having a well-written, CCSS-aligned teacher guide for your book. We’ve seen recently how influential teachers and librarians are when it comes to promoting kid’s literature. Every step you can take to make your book more classroom-friendly makes it that much more likely that a teacher will look at your book over the competition.
This post was written by Erin Fry, Teacher, Curriculum Creator and Author of LOSING IT, Amazon Children's Publishing
"Fry has a great ear for middle school dialogue, and her light, humorous touch will ensure that readers keep turning the pages until the uplifting conclusion." School Library Journal