How to build a reading corner

Oct 14, 2020
"Let us remember: one book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world."
— Malala Yousafzei

Whether you live in Calgary or Caracas, Fredericton or Freetown, Kelowna or Kolkata, reading is fundamental to learning in school and participating in society. Children who can read and write are more likely to succeed in school and have more options when it comes time to enter the workforce.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, children who are read to are more able to take initiative in their life and they have a higher self-esteem. Reading helps children learn and stretches their imaginations, showing them things in the world they may never see, like other countries, people or technologies. 

Both teachers and parents play a critical role in helping 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. One way to help is to build a reading corner.

Building a reading corner at home is as easy as A, B, C

This past year, COVID-19 has meant that families have been spending more time at home. School closures in 194 countries globally, have affected nearly 1.6 billion learners – over 90 per cent of the world’s school-going population.

Building a reading corner at home is a great way to support your child's learning from home. And you can build one using materials you already have on hand. 

Step 1: Pick a cozy spot where your child can display their favourite books and crafts. Make sure the space is well-lit and that there’s a comfortable place to sit (a pillow will do or you could use a small table and chair).

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: Enjoy a good book together in your new reading corner. Creating a reading corner shows your child that you value reading and encourages them to practice their literacy skills. It also serves as a reminder for parents and caregivers to create room in the day to read with our children.
An Indian girl holds a book open to a group of children gathered in a circlePooja, 19, the reading club facilitator, reads to the children during story time at the reading club. Photo: Tiatemjen Jamir

Creating a reading corner in the classroom

When it comes to literacy, the parent-teacher partnership is critical. A reading corner in the classroom can be a great tool to encourage reading in students. Here are some things for teachers to consider when creating a reading corner in the classroom.
  1. Choose a space in the classroom that is well-lit, and make sure it is big enough for a group of children but small enough to still be cozy.
  2. Define the space. Use a rug or bookshelves or drape fabric from the ceiling as a divider.
  3. Include lots of soft materials to make the space warm and inviting. Add floor cushions or beanbag chairs and a basket of soft toys so young readers have a buddy to read to. 
  4. Get the kids involved. Decorate the space with crafts and colourful drawings your students have made about their favourite books, and what they like about reading. Include photos of your students reading in the space.
  5. Make books accessible. Keep the books within easy reach on low shelves, or in crates or baskets. 
  6. Less is more. Rotate books in and out to keep things fresh. Highlight books that relate to a lesson plan. Collaborate with other teachers and librarians. 
COVID-19 has meant a lot of changes in the classroom this year. And that means that a reading corner might not be a safe option yet. But that doesn't mean you can't start to plan your reading corner for when it's safe for your students to be in close proximity with one another. Planning is an act of hope and that hope can be a boost for a teachers heart. When you are able to build a reading corner in your classroom, share the results with us on social media @WorldVisionCan.

Reading corners around the world

Eight-year-old Sakhi loves her reading corner. She lives with her parents in a small village near Aparajita, India. She participates in Literacy Boost, a program that strengthens children’s literacy skills in- and out-of-school. 
A young Indian girl stands in her classroom and reads aloud from the book she holds in her handSakhi reads aloud in class. Building a reading corner at home and participating in a reading club at school has improved her reading skills and boosted her confidence. Photo: Tiatemjen Jamir

“I like reading the most,” says 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.”

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. That’s where they heard about the value of creating a designated space or “reading corner” in their home where Sakhi can keep her books. And they both recognize the progress Sakhi has made in her reading skills. 
A young Indian girl sits on the floor at her home. Her parents are sitting on either side of her and they are all smiling. There is a book in front of them.Sakhi with her mother, Gonewali and father, Babu, at their home. Photo: Tiatemjen Jamir

“A few months ago, Sakhi could barely even recognise alphabets. Today she is able to comfortably read full sentences from books,” says Babu, Saki’s father. “People may say what they want, but I believe a girl child should also be educated and self sufficient.” 

Sakhi’s teacher Bal Krishna agrees. “Barely a few months ago Sakhi could neither read nor write,” he says. “She was shy and didn’t participate in class activities. However, due to the Literacy Boost programme, she is now able to read and actively participates in class.” 
A young Indian girl stands next to her teacher in the classroom as they work on a lesson.Sakhi participating in classroom activities as her teacher, Bal Krishna, guides her through it. Photo: Tiatemjen Jamir

Around the world, many children like Sakhi 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.

Have you created a reading corner in your home or classroom? Share the results with us on social media @WorldVisionCan.

More stories for you

Innovative technology improves children's learning A free, interactive literacy software program called ABRA/READS is helping children in Rwanda develop their English literacy skills through play-based learning.
Protecting a girl's right to an education World Vision’s Equality for Girls’ Access to Learning (EGAL) project is run in partnership with Global Affairs Canada. Sister Helene in the DRC is working with vulnerable girls through EGAL.
Three ways toys are making a difference across the world Find out all the ways toys can make a positive change in the lives of children across the world, courtesy of Spinmaster.