Reading to preschoolers is one of the most important things you can do for them as their teacher. It introduces them to new vocabulary, builds print awareness, and fosters a love of reading. It is also important that preschoolers are able to explore books and other reading materials on their own. How you set up your reading library preschool center should be inviting to children and encourage independent reading.
FIND A QUIET SPOT
The reading library preschool center should be in an area of your classroom that will not be too loud or too busy. You want the reading area to be a calm and relaxing place for your preschoolers, so having it near the building, blocks, and loose parts center, for example, where there are crashing block towers and preschoolers busily working together, would not be the ideal spot for a reading center.
Next to the writing center would be a great spot for a quiet and cozy reading library center. The writing center is typically a quiet place where children are focused on their work, so having a reading center next to it would be ideal. Both areas are calm and quiet and will not disrupt the other.
MAKE IT COZY
Preschoolers are much more likely to sit and engage with reading materials if they can get comfortable. Provide a variety of child sized seating for your preschoolers to choose from that gives them the option to sit alone if they want to, or to sit and share a story with a friend or two. A child sized couch, small table and chairs, bean bags, floor pillows, and a long pregnancy pillow would all be great choices for your reading library center.
PROVIDE A VARIETY OF READING MATERIALS
Often times, we think of the reading area as just for books. There are so many other reading materials that you can introduce your preschoolers to though. Try adding newspapers, children’s magazines, and flyers to your preschool reading center, too. All of the reading materials should also be place at the children’s level in a way that makes them easily visible. You want to make it as simple as possible for your preschoolers to find what reading materials they want to engage with.
Like the rest of the classroom, the reading library center should be a print-rich environment. The natural exposure to print will help preschoolers become more familiar with print. This helps them to be able to learn on their own and at their own pace. To create a print-rich reading area it takes more than just providing some books. Label everything and include other print such as word walls, calendars, and word cards. The exposure to print, especially when seeing the same labels over and over, will foster print awareness and reading skills without any direct instruction. Instead, your preschoolers will learn through play and exploration.
INCLUDE A LISTENING AREA
For some preschoolers, sitting and looking at books independently can be an overwhelming idea. They may need more sensory input to be able to sit and engage in a story, or they may just not be interested in books without someone reading to them. Providing an option for your preschoolers to be able to listen to stories as they follow along with the book is a great alternative for those who would otherwise not engage in the reading library center.
When preschoolers are engaged in reading and listening to stories, they often then build those stories into their play. Give your preschoolers opportunities to do this in the reading library center by providing props such as finger puppets, felt stories, and even a doll house. Dolls and stuffed animals are also great additions to the reading center, as your preschoolers will enjoy reading to them. This will expand their learning and further foster their love of reading.
Including a chalk board or white board in your reading library center will encourage your preschoolers to draw pictures to go along with the stories they have read. They will also be more likely to practice writing familiar words they have been exposed to both in the reading materials and the environmental print.
The number one goal of the reading library preschool center is to foster a love for reading. Provide a variety of print materials, props, and a cozy place to relax with a book and the rest will happen naturally. When you go to the reading center and grab a book to sit down with, you are sure to have a flock of preschoolers quickly joining you.