Using Books to Enhance Materials | Day 18 – 30 Days TYP

Children of the World Activity {An Everyday Story}

Using books to enhance materials  Day 18 - 30 Days to Transform Your Play {An Everyday Story}

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Day 18 of our 30 Days to Transform Your Play series and we’re talking about all those wonderful books which fill our kids’ bookshelves.

There is so much to discover in those books but I think much like our children’s toys, when they are arranged in a book shelf, their covers hidden, it can be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Books on the Play Shelf - Day 18  30 Days to Transform Your Play {An Everyday Story}
Two books about knights and medieval times next to a basket of figurines and interlocking blocks

But when we put books out on the shelf with different toys and materials we bring attention to those books and offer an opportunity for our children to learn more about their interests; encouraging new vocabulary and ways of playing.

I’ve written a post about this previously:

“An understanding of how different animals behave; where they live, what they eat, how they live in relation to other animals and the environment, can be played out in elaborate imaginary play scenes. Or their understanding of how a rainbow appears, how a volcano erupts, why the sun sets, or why trees move on a windy day, can all be represented creatively in increasing complexity.”

~ Non-fiction Books for a Deeper Level of Play

A book about Australian animals can be placed on the shelf next to a basket of animal figurines and some small world materials. A book about how roads are built or buildings of the world can be placed next to a basket of blocks; inspiring different ways of building.

Children of the World Activity {An Everyday Story}
Children of the World; a beautiful photographic trip around the world next to a globe, some foreign currency and world landmark figurines.

As they read, they will learn new vocabulary, new ideas and spark new questions. Their understandings will be represented in their play; deepening their play.

Jack and Sarah will often simply look through the books, other times they will ask me to read with them. The pictures and stories inspire their play; the more they read and come to know the pictures and information in the books, the more they use this in their play; learning, unfolding naturally.


  • sort through your books
  • select any that will be of interest to your child at the moment
  • place them on the shelf with some toys and materials
  • when you next rotate the toys, create an exploration or an art experience, add a book for further exploration

Share your book and toy set-up on Facebook or on Instagram using #30daystyp


Some books you might like:

What are some of your favourite books which can be used to enhance toys, explorations and art experiences?

If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series.

Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning

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7 Replies to “Using Books to Enhance Materials | Day 18 – 30 Days TYP”

  1. Thanks for sharing this. I’m often inspired when I see books partnered with what your children are playing with and have tried to initiate this with my girls lately too. It’s wonderful to have different themed books scattered in different places with similar toys or objects and see how they involve the book within their experience! 🙂 Another valuable lesson from a fabulous series Kate! 🙂

  2. Fantastic post!

  3. Francesca Schroer says:

    This is such a great idea, and I’ve seen how somehow this magically works! My boy loves finding “toys” that match what he’s looking at, and creates his own stories mixing what he’s read in other books, it’s hilarious!!! We all have been so blessed AND SPOILED by your direction towards the Reggio path. It’s truly amazing, thank you!

  4. This is so obvious but so helpful! I’ve just started setting up an appealing shelf area for my 5 year old and this will make a lovely addition to one of the pigeon holes! Thanks a million for making this so clear!

  5. Hi Kate. I’m reading through your play series and I’m gathering so much food for thoughts. My oldest is almost three (enter tears), how would you approach reading a book with content above his understanding. Would you read all the words? Paraphrase? Mostly we have been discussing the pictures and I’ll pull important vocab words I want him to learn. Thanks a million.

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