Beyond the Book Corner: Setting up a Literary Classroom

Posted on: 28/08/2021

The Literary Curriculum

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Setting up your classroom at this point each year can be a moment of unbridled joy. Almost like moving into a new home, or redecorating a room, this is the moment where you can make your dreams a reality! ‘This will be the year that the Pritt stick lids will not stray and this desk arrangement will make managing behaviour so much easier!’ However it can also be a time of feeling completely overwhelmed as we know as educators how important the learning environment can be. We are also so very aware of how much time we are going to spend in this space over the next year – for many of us it will be more than our homes! For us creating the book corner was always the most exciting job. Sometimes seen as a bit of a dumping ground, the book corner can be a place where you can help to curate the reading choices of your class, identifying genres and authors that you’d like them to notice (as well as picking out some key soft furnishings in case anyone was able to actually sit in it) But this doesn’t have to be the only place where we can promote our love of literature. We have a few other places and bases that we like to cover:

  •  Teacher’s desk. Whether you have a desk or just a mere shelf this is the place that you can communicate – albeit subtly – what your personal choices are around books. This is the place where you may place a poetry anthology or a childhood favourite which, at the right point, you can whip out, and read from or talk about.

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  • A news station. We know how many children love to peruse the news and publications such as First News and The Week are extremely popular with all children. With older children it’s worth also bringing in papers from the weekend or the free papers to put in a tray to help themselves. The opportunity to discuss current affairs is a brilliant way to engage children in spotting headlines and can also be extremely useful when it comes to children creating their own articles.

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  • Quotes on the wall. At this point in the year the classroom should be a blank canvas but you may have a few quotes on display from some favourite books that could help to inspire as well as help children to be familiar with the language of the books so they may pick them up themselves one day.
  • Posters. Book posters and stands to promote new publications are often freely available from bookshops shortly after the release date and we’ve found that shops are very happy to recycle to schools – this works well for school libraries as well.
  •  Book reviews, votes and competitions. Pick a small amount of recently published books to have a book competition/world cup over the year  Have some small book reviews on postcards sticking out of books on the side. Allow children to add to them when they read them and mark what amount of stars they would give the book. Use these to help the voting process and at the end of the year allow all children =to get involved with ranking the books. Have a couple of copies of each book so they can be borrowed and passed on.
  • Book-on-the-go. What is your book-on-the go? This is what we call our current reading book. Allow children to keep their book-on-the-go on their table so they can turn to it if there is a spare 5 minutes in the day. It means that their peers can see their book choices and that if it’s in sight, it’s more likely to stay in mind.

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These are just our favourite things to set up and there’s probably (at least!) a few hundred other things you could do as well, so do let us know what you’ve set up to make your classroom a literary haven for the year ahead @theliteracytree and good luck!

Posted in: Curriculum

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