A how to guide: choosing and using quality books for the classroom
At the CLPE we recognise the key role that children’s literature plays across the curriculum in supporting children’s progress as readers and writers. But with an estimated 10,000 children’s books being published each year in the UK, navigating where to start and how to filter can be a minefield. That’s why we produce Corebooks - our online collection, which, since its inception in 1996 as a print collection, has been helping teachers select the best texts to use as the basis of their literacy curriculum, as well as functioning as a go to guide for all those looking to develop a love of reading in learners from the earliest stages.
All our book recommendations have been tried, tested and found to work successfully in classrooms, providing children with broad, memorable and positive reading experiences. The selections on Corebooks include texts which successfully support children’s early attempts at reading and help scaffold their development as confident and competent readers. They also include texts to support a wider literature curriculum (from which we form the basis of our training courses including our flagship literacy training, Power Of Reading). Importantly, these texts offer an array of writing opportunities and are rich for discussion.
Furthermore, a distinguishing factor in our selections is the particular emphasis we place on picturebooks, non-fiction texts and poetry – forms generally under-utilised in many classrooms. The collection is curated and updated by our highly experienced librarian in partnership with our teaching staff.
What have we learnt from our years collecting and curating children’s books? We’ve outlined our findings in our What We Know Works: Choosing and Using Quality Children's Texts guide.
Here’s a quick distillation of key features to look out for when choosing books for your children, and when creating, curating and maintaining your own book stock, libraries or reading areas:
Build a collection of books from a wide and diverse range of authors, illustrators, genres and forms to be able to feed children’s interests in all directions and to appeal to all readers.
- Examples include Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury), Pattan’s Pumpkin by Chitra Soundar and Frané Lessac (Otter-Barry Books) and The Boy At The Back of The Class by Onjali Q. Raúf (Hachette Children's)
“I have learnt that there are far more genres and texts suited for my class than I previously thought. Books are relevant, refreshingly new and exciting.” - Teacher
Become familiar with how different books can be used to support a variety of reading experiences and scenarios. For example books which lend themselves to reading aloud or those that are better for groups.
- We've worked with a range of author-illustrators to bring books to life through oral tellings and illustration. Listen to our author-illustrators reading aloud from their titles on Power Of Pictures
Choose books and multimodal texts with high quality artwork and production values which complement, support or extend the text or story
Allow children to see themselves reflected in what they read and to have the opportunity to investigate other lives, worlds and perspectives.
- Our Reflecting Realities research supports and encourages inclusivity in classrooms, helping teachers choose books to speak to a range of experiences. Find out more about our work studying ethnic representation in children's literature.
Select books that include rhyme, rhythm and pattern, encouraging. children to play with language so that they see reading as a meaningful and fun process
- We run a range of programmes and offer teaching resources to make the teaching of reading as multisensory and dynamic as possible to aid all forms of language development and progression. Find out about our Phonics teaching and Early Years programmes.
To find the full set of recommendations and tips, read our free What We Know Works: Choosing and Using Children’s Texts.