How to

Turn a corner

Including a book corner or reading space in your classroom can be an exciting way to promote Reading for Pleasure. This blog highlights some of the areas to consider when trying to develop a reading space that has impact.

A tempting environment

Creating an attractive and inviting book corner sends a clear message that reading, and particularly Reading for Pleasure, is something that is valued in your classroom.

When developing a space to encourage children to engage with texts, it can be useful to reflect on your own preferences for reading. Where do you enjoy reading most? What does this environment look/sound/feel like? How can you emulate this and create a comfortable and inviting space for reading in your classroom? Inviting the children to describe how they would like their reading space to look can also be valuable.

It is important to consider how you arrange and promote the texts that are available. In the timeless book The Reading Environment (Stenhouse Publishers, 1996), Aidan Chambers invites teachers to consider and reflect upon how booksellers arrange their stock to tempt and entice their customers. Considering the way that texts are displayed and ensuring titles are front facing can be a powerful way to promote what’s available.

Tempting texts

Although the aesthetics of the environment can attract young readers to the space, the texts that fill the book corner are even more important. The Department for Education’s recently updated Reading Framework emphasises this, stating that time might ‘be better spent on selecting, displaying and promoting the books in the book corner than on decorating it’.

Book corners that are filled with what Professor Teresa Cremin describes as, ‘texts that tempt’ will encourage readers to return again and again.

  • Class favourites: What do we need to consider when selecting books for our book corners? Asking children for their input is a powerful way to ensure engagement. You could ask your class which authors, genres or texts they would like to see included in your book corner. This is a great way to ensure there’s something available for everyone, while also getting to know your children as readers.
  • Texts that reflect children’s lives: It is also important to ensure that the texts available reflect the realities of the children in our classrooms (and beyond). Amongst other things, providing opportunities for children to see themselves in the texts they are reading is a powerful way to promote reading for pleasure.
  • Something for everyone: Ensuring there is a diversity of genres available can also tempt readers. Including comic books, poetry, graphic novels, e-Books, non-fiction, wordless texts and beyond will ensure variety and interest.
  • New offerings: Rotating and refreshing book stock periodically can also ensure children continue to be enticed by the selection of texts available. The DfE’s Reading Framework recommends that around 30 to 40 books are available and that you include some well-loved books children have enjoyed in previous years of school.

Make time for reading book talk

As well as having an inviting space and tempting texts, it is important that time is provided for children to actually use the space! It is also important that the reading space is used for reading, chatting about texts and for children to share ideas and recommendations. Think about how your special reading space can support, promote and value this. Research has highlighted the power of informal book talk when fostering Reading for Pleasure. As guidance from the Open University highlights, book corners ‘work in interaction with reading aloud, book talk and a designated reading time’ and are just one aspect of Reading for Pleasure pedagogy.

Author bio: Matthew Courtney  is a Teacher and Curriculum Lead.