Books are very important for young children. A book center can help stimulate children’s imagination and creativity while also building language skills. The book center is a great place for adults to read to children and for children to spend time looking at pictures and interacting with different books.
Setting Up a Book Center in Your Classroom
- Location: The book center should be located in a quiet area separate from noisier activities such as block building and active play. Including writing and drawing materials can help children build off what they have looked at and create their own books. Books can also be placed in each center in the classroom to allow children to read about the topic. For example, books on families could be placed in the dramatic play area to give children additional ideas for acting out the roles of diverse families.
- Display: If possible, provide the book center with a carpet or rug and pillows or soft child-sized furniture. Creating a comfortable space will encourage children to spend time reading and looking through different stories. Whenever possible, display books on racks with covers facing forward so children can use the pictures on the cover to help select books that interest them.
- Rotation: Rotate books from time to time, based on classroom themes and children’s interests. Rather than changing all books at once, consider leaving some popular books in the area and replacing theme-related or less-used books with newer ones related to current classroom themes or interests. Let children’s activity be your guide.
What a Book Center Should Look Like
- Well stocked with a variety of materials: Offer a variety of books for children to use. Children can easily become bored with the same books, so you will want to change the materials regularly.
- Neat and organized: Children should be able to find the books they want without having to search through a lot of clutter. Also, if the center is organized, the expectation is that the children will help keep it that way.
- Limitless: An inviting and well-stocked book center encourages children to explore books, use their imaginations, and create their own stories. Within reason, children should be allowed to follow their literacy interests.
- Storage: Store writing and drawing materials in bins or containers on low shelves that give children easy access.
Choosing Equipment and Supplies
A variety of equipment can be included in the book center. Some examples include:
- low shelves or standing bookcase
- a wide variety of books (including picture books, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, multicultural, etc.)
- pillows, beanbag chairs, or a small table with chairs
- flannel board, flannel board stories, and flannel board cutouts
- puppets or stuffed animals
- CD or MP3 player with recorded stories and headphones
- writing and drawing materials (including paper, pencils, crayons, markers, etc.)
For More Information
To learn more about books and other learning centers in child care, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:
- The Book Center in Child Care
- Child Care Play and Learning Areas
- Keys to Planning Successful Learning Centers in Child Care
- Choosing Books for Young Children
- Language and Literacy in Child Care
Photo by Diane / CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/