Well-Stocked Book Center Builds Literacy Skills
The book center in an early childhood classroom is very important. Therefore, the space should
include shelves that hold books of all kinds. The collection should include the following: Mother Goose and other rhyming books, ABC books, wordless books, informational books, fairy tales, and Realistic Fiction. The books should be in good quality and colorful to draw children’s interest. Change the books often.
It is important for children to have a positive reaction to books. According to the Commission on Reading, ” THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT ACTIVITY for building knowledge for their eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children,” see more of the report at NAEYC.
Children should see adults enjoying books and reading for pleasure. In addition, they should be read to on a regular basis. Make sure that the print is written horizontally and begins on
the left side of the page to the right. The story should start at the top of the page and work down. (You may think this is ridiculous to say, but I have seen picture books with the print scattered all over the page). According to research, the power of reading to children is reflected in a child’s success in school. Reading books with rhyming words builds a child’s ability to sound-out words later.
Make the book center attractive. You should set the books on the shelves with the front of the book facing outward. Non-readers will be able to make choices, easily. Other items to add to the book center are puppets, dolls, easels, flannel board, pillows, and other seating. I once saw a brightly painted claw-foot tub filled with pillows for a reading area. Needless to say, the children loved the area. I use to put dolls in my center. I was delighted to see young 3 and 4 year old children “reading” the books to the dolls.They enunciated words just like they had heard at the library or from the teacher.
Highlight Topics That Enhance Cultural Diversity
Books promote many of the developmental areas such as language, creativity, cognition, and music and movement. It is easy to see how most of these areas are strengthened through follow-up songs and games. I want to touch on two areas that you may not think about. They are social and emotional development. Include books that highlight diversity. Can the children identify with the books? If the illustrations include diverse cultures, are the pictures demeaning or inspiring? For example, would a young black or Hispanic child see illustrations that represent them in professional roles? Do you have books that depict different family units? Also, make sure that some of the realistic fiction books include situations that help children understand and express emotions. Discuss the emotion later.
The classroom teacher will need to set-up opportunities to build social skills. Encourage children to work in pairs and share the story with each other after it has been read by the teacher a few times.
Good Selection of Books
Provide a good selection of books with varied genres. Make sure that the classroom has a good selection. Remove the torn books. (The illustrations from torn books can be used to make a flannel board story). Add to the selection by going weekly to the public library and selecting additional books.
- Read book to children individually, small groups, and the large group. Begin by reading through the book and becoming familiar with the book prior to reading it to the children. Introduce the book and ask the children to predict what the book is about. Let’s pretend that you are introducing Barkley’s Great Escape. Share the title and the author. Then ask, “What do you think this book is about?” From the cover, the children might say that Barkley is sunbathing. You might add sunglasses as you are reading the book to enhance interest. You may ask the children