Sunday, 6 April 2014

Is your class library a Tesco experience?

Our class library is probably similar to most in Early Years and Key Stage 1. It has a range of books...new to old...good to bad...


I have been watching the children using the book corner this week. What I saw happening worried me. I noticed that the children discarded the majority of the books they picked up. A few favourites were always taken, but the majority of books ended up on the floor or untouched. These favourites were often carried round like trophies, as just having them seemed to bring pleasure.

The behaviour fell into three categories...

1/. Not visiting the book corner at all.

2/. Hoarding the favourites. 

3/. Staying in the corner for a few minutes...browsing, but not engaging.

Category 3 is the one that worried me the most. I viewed them as browsers who weren't really interested in reading. That was until I recognised the look of sad frustration on one boys face when he moved on. I realised that I feel the same when I browse the books in a supermarket...



Very little worth reading in my opinion. Mostly discounted 'nearly made it' books that the publishers need to clear stocks of.

I have a browse most times I visit a supermarket. I know I enjoy reading, yet there's always the nagging feeling that I 'should' be reading. Not being able to find something to read in a supermarket just adds to this nagging feeling. The boy must have felt the same.

Sometimes the nagging gets the better of me though, and I dive in! This has lead to the purchase of books that I was never hugely interested in, and never got past the first chapter of...the ones the children discarded on the floor.

The above experience leaves me feeling a little despondent about reading, and if I'm honest it makes me feel a bit dim, like I'm not bright enough to enjoy books that others obviously do.

Then I thought about the books that I have really enjoyed reading, the ones that stir up feelings and memories when you see the spine on the bookshelf. I could recall buying many of them...a comment from a fellow browser, a recommendation from an assistant, five minutes spent reading the opening pages...

It was then that I realised my class library needs to more like a Waterstones than a Tesco. Not bigger, just better. Whether old or new, every book needs to be one of the best. Even an average book is going to risk putting a child off reading, either for that day, or week, or even worse for ever.

I then saw my class library as something that was more likely to put children off reading than inspire them to get started...

Chuck the average books out!...old and tatty is fine, just as long as it's good.

We have a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar that has tears, mud stains and even pages missing. The children still carry it round, read through it, share it with a friend, and sometimes argue over it. It's tatty because it's good, very good. In fact it's a highly desirable thing to have.


So next time there's no budget for new books, all is not lost. You may do just as well by throwing out the bad and average ones. Just think twice before binning the one that's missing a few pages and patched up with sellotape...


The Edgazette
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