The secret recipe for inviting children to take care of books in the preschool classroom

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on April 26, 2013

in Children's Books, Professional Development, Quick Tips for Preschool Teachers, Recipe for Taking Care of Books

In my class book shelf you will find my favorite, most prized collection of books on display and available for the children to read on their own. To help my students take care of our books, I follow a secret recipe . Just like each ingredient in a recipe is important in cooking, each approach that I use is equally important in order to build student success in taking care of our books.

Secret Recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

1. Gathering your ingredients

A good cook knows that the quality of ingredients can make a difference in the outcome of their recipe. This is also true when it comes to building a collection of books for your classroom. Choosing quality read-aloud children’s picture books make a big difference when it comes to helping children love and care for the books in your classroom.

Secret Recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

2. Getting to know your ingredients

A good cook wants to really know the ingredients they are using before starting to cook with them. In the classroom, young children also need to know what is inside of each book before it is added to your collection of books on the shelf. In my classroom, we take the time to read, discuss, investigate, and really get to know each book before it is placed on our shelf for the children to read on their own…

Secret Recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

3. Exploring your ingredients

A good cook knows that part of cooking success is exploring the different aspects of ingredients so they know more about the role each ingredient plays in a recipe. In the classroom, preschoolers need opportunity to explore the contents and ideas of a book in order to build meaningful connections to the story.  For every book I read to the children, I look for ways to extend the ideas or content of the book into our reading experience and through playful opportunities in our classroom centers…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

4. Adding your ingredients

A good cook doesn’t dump all of their ingredients into the bowl at one time. Instead, a good cook prepares each ingredient then slowly stirs and mixes each ingredient into the bowl.  The same holds true when it comes to providing a great selection of books for your shelf. After reading each of our books together and exploring the ideas of the books in our centers we then add the books to our shelf for the children to read on their own. We gradually build our collection of books so that each book is a book that the children really know, love, appreciate, and can relate to…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

5. Cooking your ingredients

A good cook knows that you can’t cook your recipe in an oven or on top of the stove at just any old temperature and for any old length of time.  Time and temperature must be carefully thought through and adjusted based on the type of recipe and the desired results.  The same holds true in the classroom. You must have a plan for how your students will read the books on their own and where they will read the books and even when they will read the books. You need to share and model your plan with the children so that they will understand what is expected of them and how they can integrate the books you provide into their experiences throughout the day…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

6. Testing the recipe

A good cook knows that a recipe must be tried and tested and that there are always those times when something will go wrong.  Rather than putting all the ingredients away and out of reach to never try again, a good cook will make adjustments and find solutions so the recipe will find success. In our classroom, the children know that if a page in the book should happen to rip that we should fix it right away. We might need to tape up a tear in the book or wipe off a little dirt. We will remind the children to wash and dry sticky hands before handling a book when necessary. Because our children have such a deep appreciation for each book in our classroom, they work hard to be smart about how they are treating our books and they demonstrate a good understanding of how we all need to work together to take care of our books…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

7. Tasting the recipe

A good cook knows that in the end, the best test for any recipe is actually tasting the recipe. In our classroom, we spend about five or ten minutes of each day “tasting our recipe” as a class. While the children are reading the books together, Mrs. Courtney and I are able to observe the children and find out which books the children  are showing the greatest interest in, which books they have lost interest in, and how we can continue to foster a good taste for reading in our classroom…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

8. Sharing the recipe

A good cook loves to share the recipe with others. As the children in our classroom have grown familiar with our books, they are now spending more time reading to each other.

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

9. A recipe for success

When a good cook finally has a recipe that is well loved by himself and the people he shares it with he will want to keep that recipe and use it over and over again.  As I observe my students modeling the reading experience for each other and taking time to enjoy the reading experience with each other, I don’t worry about whether our books will be taken care of. I know that as long as my students are continuously building their understanding, appreciation and love for the books in our classroom, they will naturally want to take care of the books for me…

Secret recipe for helping preschoolers take care of books by Teach Preschool

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Comments on this entry are closed.

1 Heather April 26, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I love the format of this post Deborah. I love a good analogy!

2 MIRIAM FERNANDEZ BORASO April 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Thanks for sharing! very useful tips! can you upload the list with the names of the books. I ‘ll try to get them. I have some of them but not all of them! I love the pics. the’re fabulous! Iwish I could work or visit your kindergarten, if I was in THE USA!
kisses & hugs!
MIRIAM

3 Erin August 24, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Great approach! I’m a bookworm and cringe when I see my youngest son not take care of my books. I love how you add each ingredient at a time after you’ve introduced it to them, instead of all at once. Something for me to try and incorporate in my own home!

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