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Creating a book corner in your early years setting

How to create a quiet, comforting reading space for children

Language: English
Genre: Identity
Age group: 0-2, 3-5
Audience: Professionals
Topics: Bookbug

Last updated: 20 July 2021

You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book

- Roald Dahl

We want every child to fall in love with books and reading, but sometimes young people may need a bit of help to get there. By creating a cosy, relaxing, fun reading space, you're helping children find new reasons to enjoy reading. You might have a big area or a tiny nook, but most importantly, the section of your setting allocated for books and reading will be attractive and enticing. So whether you're creating a book corner in your early years setting or for wee ones at home, these top tips will help you make the most of your space.

Location, location, location

The term 'book corner' is used because putting books in a corner often creates a cosy space. While a corner may be the best place, it does not really matter where the book area is situated. In an ideal world, the book corner will have enough light for children to see the books and enough space for a sofa or chairs and cushions where a few children and an adult can snuggle up. It is worth considering if you want your book corner to be cosy and comfortable, away from the bustle of the nursery, or central and dynamic so that children pass the book corner many times in a session. If you want your book corner to feel magical, adding a pop-up tent or a fabric canopy will help.

Keep your book corner tidy

We know how easy it is for book corners to get messy or for books to get knocked over in a bustling nursery. Encourage children to take ownership of the book corner by tidying the books at tidy-up time. Give a member of staff responsibility for checking that the books are in good condition and well-displayed.

A place for everything and everything in its place

If you have any pots of funding you can access, it is worth investing in some durable, attractive shelving or boxes for storing books. These will save you time and give your book corner an identity. If you do not have a budget, you can make the book corner more exciting by displaying the books 'face on' and adding some posters and wall-stickers.

Book corner optics

Try rotating the books you have on display if possible. You might want to have a 'Star Book' or 'Book of the Week' that is displayed prominently or that you read every day. It can also be worth putting out some small boxes or baskets with just four or five books in them so that children can pick out easily one they may like.

Book Quality

Make sure the books on offer are in good condition and age appropriate. Remember that it can sometimes be better to have a small number of appealing books than lots of tatty texts.

I like to move it

Since your book corner can be anywhere that works, you might want to consider having books in an outdoor space. Inspired by books like The Gruffalo or We're Going on a Bear Hunt, your reading space could move outside into a deep, dark wood. If you have an outdoor shelter or a wooden tepee where books can be shared, then pop some books outside in plastic zippy bags.

Choices, choices, choices

Ideally, there should be something for everyone in the book corner! Think about the types of books that are available in the book corner. It is important to have a range of picture books reflecting the diversity of our communities. Children need to see themselves represented in the books we share with them. This can help to build self-esteem and identity and enable children to appreciate both their own culture and the culture of others. Sharing stories that reflect and value the diversity of children's experiences can help to challenge stereotyping based on gender, race, sexuality, disability and poverty.

Look at the books you have available, and ask yourself whether they reinforce or challenge certain stereotypes. Taking gender as an example, do the stories children hear tend to feature 'adventurous boys' and 'pretty princesses'? Are female characters portrayed as caring and sensitive, whilst male characters are tough? Zero Tolerance have produced a guide to auditing your book collection(this link will open in a new window) to support you in selecting books that challenge traditional stereotypes. We also have a list of picture books that challenge gender stereotypes which provides a good place to start.

Check out all our other book lists for suggestions of books for different ages and stages if you are able to purchase new books for your corner.

View our book lists