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You have worked hard, the book corner is looking lovely and there is a small group of regular visitors who are really enjoying it. The books are a little tired but you arrange the nicest ones at the front of the shelf and the children who use the book corner seem to really like them. It has taken time and effort and the floor cushions and book shelves are a big investment so let’s really reap the rewards.

An appealing book corner is essential, it demonstrates how much you value reading and books and gives children space to explore them, but it is always going to draw in children whose learning records are already packed with notes on their communication, language and literacy skills. The challenge is to excite those less interested in the book corner.

The first thing to look at is your books. If your shelves are full of baby owls that cannot fly and baby rabbits that cannot hop or old classics with far too many words then there is a balance to be addressed. These books absolutely have their place in your book corner; they often provide a comforting connection to home and are many children’s first introduction to the pleasure of reading but they are not going to grab your most active children and do not provide the rich experience of books or the opportunities for extending learning that children need.

If you want to appeal to more children and make your books work harder for you then these are some key features to look out for in your current library and when looking for new books:

  • Silly humour is the key to wide appeal, story time should not always be calming and soothing; loud, joyful, and exuberant stories show that reading is fun for everyone. Books where the words contradict the pictures, or make untrue claims, make for a pantomime of a story time.

  • For fitness and physical skills, and to support children who find it difficult to sit and listen to a story, look for books that encourage children to be actively involved. There are books where you follow a trail or spot things, puppet books and all out action books which have the whole class jumping like kangaroos! You can of course turn your own favourites into a physical activity, it is not just ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ which lends itself to this.

  • Rhythm, Rhyme and Repetition are the three R’s of literacy in Early Years and books which combine all three are enormously useful. These are the stories that will have children joining in, exploring the rhythm and patterns of language, developing their phonic awareness, building their confidence with books and enjoying themselves. Pack your shelves with them.

  • Simple stories with a clear beginning, middle and end are very useful for exploring children’s understanding of the sequence of events and the actions of characters and to help them begin to share their own ideas.

  • There are some topics that are always going to be popular with children in Early Years and good, age-appropriate books featuring dinosaurs or cars will always be a good investment.

  •  If you find a good counting story that has plenty of rhythm and rhyme and a little tension to keep the pages turning then buy two copies, you will not regret it when the first copy falls apart.

Fantastic books shared by enthusiastic adults is the key for so many children but tempting reluctant book corner visitors in for a fantastic, lively story time will only go so far and is also missing the opportunity to use books to extend other areas of learning. Look for fiction and non-fiction to go with as many of your activities as possible; finding great books for the building site in the sand pit, the shoe shop role play, and the car mat will definitely bring rewards. With the encouragement of practitioners and teachers children will soon start using books to stimulate the play around the setting and using them as a source of information and ideas. Refreshing these books regularly will help to keep this fresh and interesting for children and staff alike.

To view our full range of Early Years book collections please click here.

Marcia Napp – Early Years Book Expert, responsible for the Pandora Early Years Collections

Posted in General By Gracey Bennett

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