A book loving reading session at school

As some of you know last term I started reading regularly to two classes of 5 and 6 year olds at M and J’s school – reading great stories just for fun, to show them that learning to read isn’t all about phonics and literacy but also about exploring, delighting and laughing.

The sessions went better than I could have hoped for and this term I’m been asked back but on slightly different terms – I’m now being given an hour every Friday afternoon to read and do book related play with the kids. Can you imagine how happy this makes me :-) ?

Today I have my first session; 30 kids (a mixture of 5,6 and 7 year olds) and our theme is books and libraries.

I’ll be starting the session with Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson and Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes and I shall round it off with Delilah Darling is in the Library by Jeanne Willis and Rosie Reeve and Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates.

In between the two reading sessions we’re going to make our own pocket libraries.

To do this the kids will first decorate some blank matchboxes with bits and pieces (we’ll be using regular matchboxes rather than craft ones as we didn’t have time to order them). Then the kids will be taking a few of the mini books I’ve prepared (folded card with a small piece of paper stapled inside) and choosing frontcovers for their books from a wide selection I’ve cut out from publishers catalogues. They’ll glue their covers to the front of their books and once they’ve got 3 or 4 they’ll put them inside their matchbox and have their very own pocket library.

A pocket library being read by some playmobil!

If there’s spare time, or the kids just want something else to do, they’ll be able to make their own mini versions of the bookshelf wallpaper M, J and I made here.

Click to view full size image ready for you to print if you wish to use yourself.

Kids will be offered a shelf of their own to paint and encouraged to come up with book titles for the books on their shelf. There will be plenty of book characters to colour in, cut out and eventually stick on to their shelves. To start with we’ll be using Gruffalo, Octonauts, Eric Carle and Charlie and Lola colouring-in sheets.

If you don’t know the books I’ll be reading here are some reviews to give you a flavour of them:

  • Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson: Review by Playing by the book, review by Library Mice.
  • Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen and Kevin Hawkes: Review by Happily Ever Tales, review by Rosemary Hetherington in Inis Magazine.
  • Delilah Darling is in the Library by Jeanne Willis and Rosie Reeve: Review by Playing by the book
  • Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates: Review by Booktrust, review by Books for Keeps.


  • Before I read Library Lion I shall show the kids this photo of the New York Public Library:

    Photo: WorldIslandInfo

    And then ask them if they recognise this statue (which is near Birmingham Central Library ie the main library in our city):

    Photo: Ell Brown

    Hopefully it will be the start of making our own stories up about this Sphinx-like Guardian and the secrets she might be protecting!

    I’ve probably planned far too much for the time allotted. I’m both nervous and very, very excited… Wish me luck with the session!

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    23 Responses

    1. What an achievement, good luck, it’s such fab activity am sure they will have great fun

    2. Wow, I LOVE the mini-library, almost makes me want to go back to being a public librarian so I can arrange an activity session around them, unfortunately I don’t get any children in the specialist library I work in. Although now I have a little one of my own on the way I can just do all these activities with them instead.

    3. This sounds just wonderful! Good luck and have a blast! Although with our time difference, you will probably have alrady had your fun by the time you read this comment :)

    4. I love, love, love Library Lion! In fact I love and own all the books you mentioned.
      I have a review of Dog Loves Books somewhere on LM too. Do you know “The Library” by David Small & Sarah Stewart? I am sure you do; it is one of my favourite picture books ever!
      When I was researching activities for Incredible Book-Eating Boy I found a whole term worth of activities around the library using picture books. It is American so some of the books are not available here, but if you are interested, let me know.

    5. Sounds like a great project – those kids are lucky to have you.

    6. This sounds wonderful, Zoe. I especially love the mini library idea. And what a brilliant thing you’re doing, too, to share the joy of reading with all the children. It’s easy to forget that not all children get to experience that at home.

      I’m starting my own school club next Monday – a Spanish Club. I’m really looking forward to it, as young children just soak up languages so well. Am considering blogging about it – like you, just to the extent of sharing the activities I’m planning and how they go (obviously not sharing any details about the children themselves).

    7. I hope it went well, Zoe, can’t wait to hear how the children responded!

    8. I love, love, love these little pocket libraries so much. Just the sort of thing I’d have made as a child :) It’s great that you’re doing this Zoe. Like Tasha G said, there are a lot of children who don’t grow up with this sort of engagement with books. Or books in their houses :( Exactly why Booktime’s such a fab programme for kids. Wonderful, wonderful!

    9. I hope it all went well, Zoe! Sounds like you had a great program planned.

    10. Dear Charlotte, Tasha, Ali, Tasha G, Melanie, Stacey and Katherine,

      Thank you so much for your best wishes and support! The session went like a dream. The pocket libraries were a hit all round. I had been worried that it wouldn’t be so popular with the boys (although I had made sure there were plenty of book covers that might appeal), but they loved it just as much as the girls so that was good. Some kids even wrote little bits or draw pictures inside their books. And We had lots of fun making up silly book titles for our painted bookshelves – everyone giggling :-)

      We didn’t have time for all the stories I’d planned, so I left out Delilah Darling, and Library Lion was quite long for this crowd to sit to at the end of the session – perhaps it would have been better to have it at the start of the session, and the shorter stories at the end. The kids loved the roaring in Library Lion and joined in at full volume when it came to rescuing Miss Merriweather.

    11. I’m a lot older than 5, and it would still totally delight me to make a pocket library in a matchbox! No wonder the idea went so well.

      • Thanks Susan, I know what you mean. I’m also in the older than 5 camp and I was very happy making pocket libraries alongside the kids!

    12. […] reading this post from Playing By the Book you are so going to want to read a teeny tiny little library – so […]

    13. I love all of the activities and will print out the bookshelf wall paper for my kids to make their library.

    14. Oh, how sweet. You most certainly put a lot of time and effort into your preparations so I’m thrilled to hear that the kids delighted in your mini libraries.

      Recently I put together an extensive book lists on books about books- It is my favourite themed book list yet. Although I hadn’t seen Delilah Darling is in the Library.

      :)

    15. […] Toft presents A book loving reading session at school posted at Playing by the book, saying, “Picture books about books and making pocket […]

    16. This is such a cute idea. Thanks.

    17. Wow, Zoe. These sessions sound wonderful! I hope they are going well and that the kids are responding with as much enthusiasm as you have. I love the idea about the pocket libraries. I know my own daughters would love that! Also love Dog Loves Books. One of my favorites these days :)

    18. Thanks Kerry, so far the sessions are going brilliantly. Pretty intense, but lots of fun.

    19. […] soon as I saw these mini libraries at Playing by the Book, I knew they’d make a great advent calendar […]

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