When you’re looking for new books to read, how do you search for them? Do you talk with your friends and ask them what their favorites are and what they’re currently reading? Do you find influencers you trust and have similar tastes to yours and see what they recommend? Maybe you try to find a list that contains books you enjoyed previously and find other titles like them, or maybe you find lists of books of genres you’re trying to get into. Regardless, the books we read often come from recommendations or from our prior knowledge of what we enjoy.
The exact same is true for children. Like anyone else, children gravitate toward books of a specific genre or about a specific topic they enjoy. While it is important to expose kids to many different kinds of books in order to give them the opportunity to discover what they like, ultimately, all reading is good reading, and the more a child reads, the better.
A great way to achieve both exposing children to different kinds of books while also giving them the opportunity to read what they love is by creating book baskets around the classroom, library, or even at home– whether you’re homeschooling or not. If you’re on Bookstagram or Teachergram, you might have seen something similar to this. The basic setup is that you collect books of similar theme, genre, or topic and put them together in a basket for children to peruse. You can even dress them up even more by including decorations or props in the basket to add another level of aesthetic appeal and coziness to your space.
These can update with the seasons, holidays, or events that are happening in your area– whatever is at your disposal. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to put together books about autumn and gratitude, while Christmas is a wonderful time to put together a winter-themed basket about gifting and spending time with family. During the back-to-school season, children’s books about starting school can be put together in a basket to help children with the big emotions and changes that come with school. And while it’s important to have children’s books about all communities and backgrounds all year round, you can especially spotlight them using book baskets– take Pride Month, which is happening next month, for example. You can even take a look at local events to provide a reading basket that connects with the day-to-day lives of your students– do some looking around to see if you have any authors in your area!
Take this month, May, for example, is field day season– so why not make a book basket with books relating to a variety of sports and sportsmanship? Something like that, where all the books relate to one overarching theme but also have unique aspects, are a great way to encourage discussion among children. If you have individual silent reading times during class, each child can pick a different book about the same theme or topic from the book basket, and then can share what they’ve learned with each other.
Speaking of which: have you checked out Evie’s Field Day by Claire Noland from Cardinal Rule Press yet? It’s the perfect book to end off the school year! You can buy it here or at your bookseller of choice!
And what else can you include besides the books themselves? Anything you like and think the children that will be looking through the books would benefit from! Stuffed animals are always a big hit. You can also include different hands-on learning activities to go along with the books. For example, if you have a basket of books about problem-solving, a great activity to pair with them to build that skill are puzzles. By connecting the reading material to an activity, both reading comprehension and recall can be built, along with skills specific to the kind of material.
Finally, another great reason to implement book baskets is that they’re just plain cute. Regardless of how you choose to set up your space, storage is important while working with children. This helps both you (and them)– it helps you by having a rotation of books that keeps the space fresh and also stores books easily by group (with an obvious place for children to return them), and for the children, they get to find topics they love.Don
So it’s time to get creative! Get those Pinterest boards ready! We’re over there too!
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Chloe Kukuk, a junior majoring in public relations and English at Oakland University, is an editorial and marketing intern at the Cardinal Rule Press. When she’s not studying or working, she loves taking trips to the bookstore and lazing around the house with her three wonderful cats.