How to build a reading corner in your home

Sep 01, 2016
10-Minute Read
Photo above: Sakhi and her reading corner

“I like reading the most,” says 8-year-old, Sakhi. “But I also like the make-and-take activity where we draw or write something that we learned at the reading club. We take it home and store it in our reading corners.”

Sakhi, who lives with her parents in a small village near Aparajita, India, participates in Literacy Boost, a programme that strengthens children’s literacy skills in- and out-of-school. Her parents participate in Literacy Boost’s parental awareness sessions designed to help parents and caregivers learn new ways of supporting their children’s literacy at home. As a result, Sakhi now has a designated space or “reading corner” in her home where she keeps her books.

An elderly man and a girl in front of a bright blue wall decorated with posters of letters.
Seble and her grandfather Gebrehana

Half a world away, in the Ethiopian region of Angolela Tera, 10-year-old, Seble, sits in the reading corner she and her grandfather, Gebrehana, made together. Seble’s reading corner has a small desk and bench for her to sit on while doing homework or silent reading. Strung between two walls is a book line, where Seble’s books hang. The walls are adorned with crafts that she had made at her reading club.

“Before the reading camp, Seble’s reading skill level was low,” says Gebrehana. “Now she’s performing better at school. I also help her practice reading at home.”

Literacy is fundamental to learning
Literacy is fundamental to learning in school and participating in society. Learning to read in the first years of primary school is critical for retention and success in future grades. But building the skills needed to read starts before a child ever enters a classroom; it begins at home.

Parents play a critical role in helping their children learn to read. A child’s brain grows more in the first eight years of life than any other time. Early experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years have lasting impact on later success.

A man and girl sit cross-legged on the floor with an open book.
Sakhi and her father read together

According to a study presented at the Society for Neuroscience, “The amount of mentally stimulating content in a child's home — such as the number of books that are around — may predict the structure of the child's brain later in life,” said study researcher Brian Avants, an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Many children, like Sakhi and Seble, don’t have access to fun, age-appropriate reading materials. Where this is the case, World Vision works with parents and community members to create new books for children. These books are made available at school and through local reading clubs. Children can borrow books from the reading club’s “book bank” much like they would from a library. These books adorn reading corners around the world.

A girl in a long skirt, with a scarf over her hair, sits outside on a rock and reads.
Seble reads outside her home

Making a reading corner is as easy as A, B, C
“Reading corners are one way that parents can make a safe, stimulating space inside the home for children to focus on reading,” says Craig Geddes, Literacy Program Manager. “Reading corners can be as big or small as a family’s budget dictates.”

You can make a reading corner in your home in three simple steps:

A. Pick a cozy spot where your child can display their favorite books and crafts. Make sure the space is well-lit and that there’s a comfortable place to sit (a pillow will due or you could use a small table and chair).
B. Together with your child, decorate the reading corner. Your imagination is the only limit. You can add a shelf to display books; hang yarn or string between two corners and use clothes pins to display arts and crafts; and make your own literacy games with materials you might already have in your home (like this special version of Snakes and Ladders).
C. Sit down together in the reading corner and enjoy a good book.

“Creating a reading corner shows your child that you value reading, and encourages them to practice their literacy skills,” says Craig. “It also reminds us, as parents, to create room in our day to read with our children.”
You can help kids without access to education gain literacy skills and much more through a donation of any amount to our World Vision Education fund.

Have you created a reading corner in your home? Share the results with us on Twitter @WorldVisionCan