Thursday, September 1, 2011

The ABCs of Teaching Preschoolers ~ L is for Library

by Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Introduction by Deborah Stewart, M.Ed. of Teach Preschool:
This post is to celebrate the 20,000 members who have joined Teach Preschool on Facebook and the wonderful bloggers who share their amazing ideas and insights each day. As a special thank you to each of you who care for and educate our youngest learners, the bloggers and I have put together "The ABC's of Teaching Preschoolers". Be sure to visit my fellow bloggers and check out the fun and insightful tips they have prepared especially for you.

The letter I chose is 'L' for 'Library'. A library, whether in your home or classroom, is so much more than just a collection of random books thrown on a shelf. An early learning library should inspire children to want to explore stories, ask questions, manipulate items, and use their imaginations.

Here are some suggested supplies/materials to start your classroom or home library for your young learners:
A variety of books: Books can be organized by theme, a child's interests, or a certain sound you are focusing on teaching. I suggest including pop-up books, books with sounds, paperback, board books, hardcover books, books with stickers, books on tape/CD, big books, etc. I am expecting baby #2 in just 3 weeks, so all of the books in my daughter's library are about babies and big sisters.

Themed objects: If you choose books with a particular theme, put together a basket of items that go with that theme. This allows the child(ren) to explore the same topic in a variety of ways! I put a basket full of baby dolls next to the library for Lydia to play with while looking at books.

Manipulative toys: Included within a library can be felt storyboards, alphabet puzzles, magnetic letters, letter/word games, puppets, dress-up clothes, and other literacy-related items. These objects allow young children to practice early literacy skills beyond just looking at books.

Photo albums: This is a great way to personalize a library. Include pictures of your child(ren), family members, favorite toys, animals, transportation, etc. Anything that can stimulate interest and conversation. The children can also use personal photos to make their own books that can be placed in the library.

Seating options: Children should be able to sit comfortably while engaging in literacy activities. Your library may include area rugs, table/chairs, bean bags, rockers, pillows, blankets, and any other comfy seating options for little ones.

Organization: It's important to keep items within the library well-organized and easily-accessible. You want children to be able to reach everything to explore objects and books independently. It helps to label containers with pictures or words and to have a variety of colorful bins/baskets for easy clean-up.

Writing area: After reading books and looking at pictures, children may want to draw pictures and write their own stories. Place paper and age-appropriate writing utensils in an area that is accessible to the child(ren). I like the Crayola Pip-Squeaks for ages 2 to 4.

Whether you are building a library for your preschool-age child at home or your students at school, remember to personalize the books, activities, toys, and decor. Young children love seeing their favorite books in the library, their artwork posted, and their favorite toys within reach!


  1. I love your extension of the library into other parts of the room. It really is a literacy rich environment which will encourage literacy & language development.
    Well Done!

  2. Thank you so much for your feedback. This was originally supposed to be a baby nursery for my son who will be born the end of this month, but it really morphed into a classroom for my daughter and her soon-to-be baby brother :-)

  3. Some very nice ideas! With focus on books it is but natural for a child/ children to gravitate towards them.

  4. I LOVE a cozy library area! My classroom is small and has never really had my dream library area...but we love it anyway- and bring literacy to all areas of the classroom! I love how you've added many different areas of literacy/language- especially the theme baskets- what a wonderful way to bring the book to life for a child!

  5. Thank you! As a special education teacher turned work-at-home mom, I love combining a warm bedroom environment with all of the fun of a pre-k classroom. My daughter seems to really enjoy exploring all of the different areas, and I have a garage full of teaching supplies so I can always switch up the materials to keep the activities fresh and engaging :-)