Backed into a Book Corner

Book Corners... I just don’t get them. I don’t get this whole idea of needing a fantastic, amazing, snuggly, different space where children will curl up and read. For me, it’s not the environment that makes you enjoy books and reading, it’s the books. 

These incredible books that lead you into a world of fantasy and imagination, that help you laugh, cry and feel all the emotions the human body has to offer. 

This is not a recent feeling I’ve had about book corners; I’ve never really got them. If the only way that you can entice children into reading is by having a bunkbed in the classroom, something isn’t right. 

I remember the summer before my NQT year spending a long time deliberating about my book corner. Even after hours of work it was nothing compared to what others had. My second school had no space for book corners so it was all about enticing children through text - something I found exceptionally hard when well over 75% of them spoke very little English and their experience of books was limited. My third school spent £300 on each book corner each year; it meant we ended up with bunk beds, boats and buses to read on but I still can’t help but feel the money could have been spend on high quality texts for every child to enjoy... from their table! 

Aside from the cost, there’s the competitive element. My experience is that teachers are a competitive group and suddenly this idea that book corners were for the children was thrown out and replaced with a scored competition akin to a squash league. Just what you want when you are anxious enough about starting a new school and wanting to get it right. 

Staff wellbeing and workload is so important to me. In my mind, I can’t justify asking staff to spend hours ‘Ikea-ing’ their book corners when I would rather they were reading to children, sharing their love of books or planning high quality and engaging reading lessons through our teaching of reading - Destination Reader. 

Our curriculum at my school now, is based around high quality texts. We teach reading skills explicitly alongside vocabulary and ensure that whichever author we are studying, we have a variety of their other work in the library and on the class bookshelves. 

Children talk passionately about reading and their experience of it. They can compare authors work and say why they enjoy something in comparison to another. They can work their way around language and use this to improve their understanding. 

All of this is done without having a flashy book corner in site or indeed on site. Because, let’s face it, they can read in exciting places outside of school but if they can’t read, they can’t access the curriculum! 

Of course, I understand that every school is different and every school does the right thing for their children but in my mind, why not put the £300-£500 schools spend on book corners, on the books and let teachers what they do best - teach!

Managing your workload as a teacher can be challenging. If you're on the lookout for free lesson ideas to save you valuable time, take a look at these 3 creative Autumn classroom activities.

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