Yesterday morning I spent a delicious couple of hours at the nursery where I have set up the Rainbow library. I played with the children, got to know them a bit and read a lot. It felt great and they seemed to really enjoy it.
It was the first time I’d been in to read and I wanted to keep it fairly relaxed and see what the children made of it all. The nursery staff were wonderful and let me take the lead and decide how to play it. I chose to join in with the children’s playing before the register, so they had a bit of time to get used to me and see that I was as willing to build a rocket and be climbed on as their teachers are. Then after registration I set myself up in the book area during their free play to see if any of the kids wanted to join in and look at some books.
I was blown away by their reaction. I hadn’t even sat down before I had a little crowd of children waving books at me and digging through the library box. I read books to them, we joined in with actions and made up our own, we lifted flaps and touched feely bits, we ooohd and ahhhd over pictures and we laughed. The children took turns in choosing books and some looked through their own books independently while waiting for me to finish another. One child ran off to draw a picture of the scary monster from Fergus’ Scary Night. Another began mark making in the library notebook. A new child shyly stood just behind me and watched everything quietly over my shoulder. All great learning.
Then one child asked if they could read one of the books again. I introduced the idea of taking the books home for a read and then bringing them back and swapping them for another. The library was born! The six children I had with me at that point went crazy, digging through the books and choosing which ones to take home. They spotted the notebook and started writing in it, making their own lists and writing their names. I put post-it’s on their chosen books with their names and then they all ran off to play while I tidied the rest away.
Of course this all sounds idyllic and it wasn’t quite that pretty. Books were flying everywhere, biros were getting scarily close to book pages and arms, there was a fair bit of jostling for position. But they are nursery children. That’s what they are supposed to do. And it was lovely.
Also important to note is that the majority of the children who joined in are clearly used to books. They were interested and came over to be read to. The children that didn’t pay any attention are the ones I most need to reach. And the ones who lurked on the sidelines, watching surreptitiously, are the ones I’m aiming for next week. Baby steps!
Playing first helps. That ten minutes of crawling on my knees and building towers before registration is time for them to see me as friendly and safe and working within the nursery’s golden rules. They can place me and understand where I fit.
Letting them have free rein of the library box is a win. It gives them the chance to explore the books, make their own choices, and learn what the box is for and how it works. This familiarity will hopefully help them introduce the box to their parents at drop off and pick up time.
Bring scrap paper or mini notebooks! The children independently moved on to making drawings or writing about the books they’d read. They loved the idea of writing in the library notebook, so a few attractive mini notebooks and sketchbooks for them to use would be a real bonus.
Interactive books are brilliant for independent reading while I am reading with another child.
Stickers work wonders with little people!
It is helping to introduce the library to the parents. I put the books the children had chosen straight in their bags so they all made it home. At pick up time the parents were talking about the books and asking questions about the library. I’m going to print up a few leaflets to put in with the books next time so that the parents know how it all works.
All in all, a success for week one. Bring on week two!