"In stories and books, children [should] encounter others whose experiences and perspectives are both similar and different from their own."
- The Reading Framework, July 2023, DoE
I LOVE reading, with a passion. I used to
read under the table when I thought the teacher wasn’t looking and I read at the bus stop on my way to school. Now, I read every night when I’m falling asleep, I read when I’m eating breakfast and I even read when I’m cleaning my teeth!
Reading gives us the thrill of recognition when we realise other people see things exactly as we do; it gives us the excitement of exploration when we dive into the past or other worlds but most importantly it teaches us about ourselves and others. Reading shows us that the world is full of people who are like us and people who are not. So how do we engender this love of reading in children?
A beautiful and creative Book Corner is lovely – it looks stunning and can be inviting to sit and relax in, but let’s be honest they take a lot of time to create - all those hours balancing on wobbly tables after school - time is in very short supply. Give yourself a break - it’s the books themselves that really matter.
The Government’s latest guidance suggests a Book Corner should be like a "mini bookshop" or a "mini library" with perhaps only "30-40 books" that are refreshed often.
Here are some suggestions to help make the most of your choices:
• Animals in children’s books are three times more likely to be male than female and villains are eight times more likely to be male. Check that your books have a balance of characters with different genders (and skin colours, ages, religions, etc).
• Don’t put all your books out at once - keep things fresh with themed boxes which you can change every 3-4 weeks.
• Have a ‘featured’ table with just five to eight books all on a similar theme and read the books to the class so the children will be familiar with them. Our Pop’n’Olly books could be grouped together in lots of different ways as a set or with other books:
+ Author focus on Olly Pike (full set)
+ Families (Goldilocks, Kenny Lives)
+ Traditional Tales (Prince Henry, Jamie, Princess Penny, Little Red Riding Dude)
+ Good to be Me (Prince Henry, Princess Penny, Jamie, What Does LGBT+ Mean?)
+ Making a Difference in the world (Kenny Lives, Prince Henry)
+ Celebrating Difference (full set)
• Develop critical readers - set aside time to discuss with the children what they’ve taken from the books and encourage them to discuss diverse representation, negative stereotyping, why they think the author has written this particular story and character motivation, thoughts and feelings.
TOP TIP - Ask for help! - There will be older children in your school who would absolutely LOVE to categorise your books and check that they reflect a whole range of genders, ages, skin colours, religions, etc. You don’t have to do everything yourself - ask for their help and watch them learn and grow as budding librarian experts.