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Ideas to develop a book area in your early years provision

a cartoon of 2 children reading a book

Take a few minutes to stand back and look at your book area. Now consider the following:

  • Is it being used?
  • Is it being used by both boys and girls?
  • Is it cosy and inviting?
  • Is it a calm space?

A designated book/story area is one of the most important areas of provision in your setting. It should be a space that is inviting to children and an area that they want to spend time in. Here are some tips to help you develop or refresh your area so that children want to use it more.

Location - consider the following

  • Is it in the right place?
  • Is it in a quiet area away from the home corner, music area or block area?
  • Is it an area that is not too busy such as a thoroughfare? 
  • Is it always accessible?
  • Do you have a book area outdoors as well as indoors?

An inviting area - consider the following

  • Is a home like atmosphere provided for your children to make connections?
  • Is there an area where a child can snuggle down to read a book and relax?
  • Do you have a comfy chair or a sofa in the area?
  • Do you have plenty of soft cushions to curl up on?
  • Do you have some small blankets for children to wrap themselves up in?
  • Is it a calm welcoming space?
  • Do you ensure colours and lighting are carefully chosen to avoid over stimulation?
  • Do you have drapes or a den area?

Organising/content of your area - consider the following

  • Are the books forward facing on a shelf or in baskets? 
  • Are your books of good quality and match the age and stage of development of your children?
  • Do your books match the needs and interests of your children?
  • Do they include a variety of hard covers, soft covers, fiction, non-fiction, nursery rhymes, home-made books, magazines, alphabet books, counting books, multi-cultural books, poems, lift the flap and sensory books?
  • Does your area contain photo albums and home-made books showing past activities and outings? 
  • Do you provide picture books and stories that focus on a range of emotions?
  • Do you include books that reflect diversity and inclusion, with plenty of positive images of people from different cultures and in non-stereotypical situations?
  • Do you include books that contain repetition, alliteration, and rhyming? 
  • Are the books refreshed on a regular basis and do you ensure that there are not too many or too few out at one time?
  • Are damaged and torn books discarded?
  • Do you rotate and enhance the area regularly, always maintaining the children's favourite books?
  • Do you include soft toys and puppets to make stories come alive? 

Using your area - consider the following

  • Do practitioners model how to look after books and treat them with care?
  • Do practitioners encourage children to replace the books after they have looked at them?
  • Do practitioners read books with small groups of children or on a 1:1 basis regularly throughout the day?
  • Do practitioners read to children in a way that excites and engages them? 
  • Are your books accessible so that children can reach/chose them independently?

It is important to remember that books are not only to be found in your book area and can be placed in all areas of continuous provision. 

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