“Reading should not be presented as a chore or duty. It should be offered as a special gift.” - Kate Dicamillo 

Bookish play brings books to life! One of the best ways to prepare little ones for school is to help them develop a love of literature. The benefits of play are no secret, so combining play with books is a match made in heaven. 

Bookish play is simply an activity that is inspired by a book. Not only does it nurture a love and excitement for books and reading at an early age, it also develops crucial comprehension skills. 

The goal for our young readers in school is to become a reader who reads for meaning. This means that children aren’t just reading the words (decoding), but they are actually understanding the meaning of the text (comprehension). 

Through bookish play, children are practicing important comprehension skills like sequencing, retelling and summarising. 

Here are some ideas for bookish play that you could do with books that you probably already have in your bookshelf:

Farm Books (everyone has some version of Old MacDonald!) - put some dried chickpeas or lentils in a tray and add some farm animal figurines. Model acting out the story and/or singing the song using the figurines and your little ones will be following suit in no time. Even your littlest babes will love hearing and making the animal noises (these are great for language development!) 

Dig, Dump, Roll by Sally Sutton - Sensory dirt (2 cups flour, 1 cup cocoa, ½ cup vegetable oil), some rocks and pebbles and some construction vehicles to match those in the book. The use of onomatopoeia (Crash-a-rumble! Smash-a-grumble!) makes this a fun one for construction lovers to reenact. 

Ducks Away! by Mem Fox - Some bath toy ducks, blue water beads (or just water) and a cardboard bridge. There’s a great numeracy focus in this one as the baby ducks fall into the river one by one. 

Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson - Sand and coloured water, a snail and a whale!  There are so many different scenes to make with this book, and it’s a great one for retelling because of the more complex storyline. You could even take this bookish play to the beach!

Who Sank the Boat? by Pamela Allen - A tray of water, a toy boat, and a cow, donkey, pig, sheep and mouse. This classic is a great one for sequencing! Which order did the animals climb into the boat and of course, who sank it?

Because this week is Book Week, it's the perfect time to give bookish play a go. If you're still feeling unsure where to start, check out Rudie Nudie's story takeover this week, where Kayla from @life_with_little_loves will walk us through her 'Who Sank the Boat' set up.

This blog was written by Kayla from @life_with_little_loves - who is primary school teacher currently on maternity leave with her 2 kids, aged 3 years and 18 months. Head to her page to find lots of examples of bookish play in her 'literacy' highlight, as well as some of the best sensory play set ups we've seen!


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