More Than Just a Book Corner

by Rebecca Evans, Read Write Inc. manager for Abbey Catholic Primary school

We teach children to read but how do we keep them reading?

Here at the Abbey Catholic Primary school, reading is at the heart of our school.  Not only do we have reading displays around school which include photos of parents reading to children at home, teachers have a responsibility to promote children’s involvement with reading.  Teachers read to their class daily and children have the opportunity to interact with books through extensive use of classroom book corners.

So how did we get to this?

On a learning walk with the head, we were looking at how we could engage children to read more.  Whilst walking around school, we noticed a common occurrence in every classroom.  Books were either piled on a shelf at the back of the classroom or in a box. So we decided that book corners needed to be our starting point.

A book corner competition was launched… Staff were given the Summer Holidays to transform an area in their classroom into a place that would not only catch the children’s attention but would spark their interest and enthusiasm and hopefully captivate their imaginations.  The staff all pulled together sharing resources and, as a result, some amazing book areas were created.

Tips on planning a book corner:

Staff need to spend time planning and maintaining the area, and books need to be tided and changed regularly.  Favourite books should be available all the time but new ones and books to support topics should also be included.

Some helpful ideas are:

  • The area needs to be large enough to accommodate a group of children but small enough to be cosy.
  • The area needs to be a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere – use rugs, an old, comfy chair, cushions, plants, bean bag chairs, drape material from the ceiling to form a partition.
  • Theme your book area. We found gearing it towards the boys encouraged them to use it more, however having it topic based meant we were opening the book corner to all.
  • Make books accessible – on low shelves, open-faced bookshelves or book trolleys.
  • Provide an area to display the covers of books maybe by the same author or ones to support a topic.
  • Less is more. We found having fewer books encouraged children to look after the area, but remember to rotate books every few weeks.
  • Divide books into categories such as traditional/fantasy stories, poetry, information books, for older children, autobiographies, historical fiction, travel/car brochures, comics and magazines.
  • Display children’s work about books such as drawings of their favourite book or a book review. Display photos of them reading, book posters or a display on an author.
  • Put a listening centre in, so they can listen to their favourite stories.
  • Story sacks or story baskets so they can reenact the story, using their storyteller’s voice.
  • A basket of soft teddies. Small children love to have a reading buddy to read to.

As teachers, we have the important job of making reading an enjoyable part of everyday life, only then will children foster a love for books and develop a positive attitude about reading.  When we open a book, we transport our imaginations to a world purely based on the imaginations of the author.  Let the imagination of the children in your class be transported in the same way, when they sit in the amazing book corner you are about to create.

Find even more World Book Day tips and ideas on our website.

Abbey Catholic Primary school is a Model School for Read Write Inc. and Rebecca Evans who has kindly shared this blog on creating a brilliant book corner in the classroom is their manager for Read Write Inc. You can see Read Write Inc. in action by booking a place at their open morning on 19th March 2018.