Two-year-old Roderick’s key person held him on her lap while she read
Shirley Hughes’ Alfie Gets in First. Roderick’s eyes were big and
serious throughout the crisis, and he held his body rigid. When the
critical moment was resolved, Roderick’s whole body relaxed and he laughed
aloud. Then he wanted to hear the story again.
Sharing this book strengthened the positive relationship between Roderick
and his key person, who realised that he is capable of mentally and
emotionally putting himself in another’s situation. She also learned that
Roderick, normally a boisterous child, can be focussed and quiet when his
interest is engaged.
Books have a tremendous influence on many areas of learning. They can
introduce themes of friendship, diversity, and overcoming challenge, thus
helping to develop character. They can expand children’s knowledge of the
world, other people, cultures and traditions, or they can introduce
imaginary themes. It is said that the best way to strengthen children’s
intelligence is to read them fairy tales.
The book corner should be in the quietest part of the room and include at
least one small nook for children who want solitary space. It should be
protected on three sides by walls, shelves, or room-dividing panels. Carpet
or rugs and soft seating or cushions add a cosy feel, and an arch or some
fabric overhead make the area inviting. A window panel and puppets can link
the book area to role play if desired.
Book corner learning and development observations:
Communication and Language
Listening and attention
Babies respond to hearing nursery rhymes or singing.
When stories are told or read aloud, children learn to listen
attentively, anticipate events, and respond to what they hear with
comments, questions or actions.
They learn non-verbal communication through body language and
Children ask “how” or “why” in response to stories, providing
Children learn to make connections with their own experiences.
Stories lead to conversations, empowering children to express their
Repetition of stories and poems establishes the basics of language
in children’s minds and reinforces learning. Children may recite
Children learn enjoyment of language, including humour and word
play. They love to use big words and will often adopt vocabulary
Health and self-care
Personal, social and emotional development
Managing feelings and behaviour
Through stories, children build empathy. They may shiver with
suspense or delight according to the story-book characters’
experience. They acknowledge how others feel.
Some stories deal with emotions explicitly; others (such as fairy
tales) deal with feelings implicitly, allowing children to safely
explore fear, anger, grief, or anxiety.
In books, children see plainly that writing tells a story. They
become intrigued and eager to unlock the code themselves.
Children may begin to link sounds and letters if they look at the
writing while a book is being read aloud.
Children can learn valuable literacy skills – context, sequencing,
and searching for meaning –from picture books (with or without
Books inspire children to tell their own stories; an adult scribing
these stories demonstrates the link between spoken and written
Children may be inspired to create books, including their own
illustrations and simple words (or captions added by the teacher).
Early mark making is often story-telling by children.
Children will begin writing when they are developmentally ready.
Understanding the world
People and communities
Books and stories stimulate discussion on similarities and
differences between children, their families, communities, and
Books in different scripts provide opportunity to recognise
similarities and differences.
Books teach children about other lands, communities and cultures.
Discussion follows naturally.
A good variety of books will feed individual interests, enabling
children to learn about animals and plants for instance, and
extending their understanding of the world – and the universe.
Expressive art and design
Books may inspire children to act out stories through role play,
puppets or dance.
Children’s expressive art and design may be stimulated by picture
Stories are often reflected in children’s art and block play.
This article is adapted from a chapter from Play and the revised EYFS, © Community Playthings, 2015.