Does your little reader have a favorite nook? (As in a cozy spot to read in and not the e-reader – the latter I guess is more likely.)
Having a special place for reading to your baby is a great way to establish the reading routine and also to get yourself in the reading zone, while getting your baby comfortable and familiar with the idea of being read to. All part of the ‘pleasant association’ technique that works so well in getting your baby to love books from an early age.
But, as your baby turns into an independent kindergärtner, it’s important to update your child’s reading nook and create a space she will continue to love to read in. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, but it helps if it is inspiring and sparks your child’s imagination and kindles her love of reading.
Create Your Child’s Reading Corner Together
Why not enlist your child’s help in designing such a space for her over this summer? Getting her involved ensures that her tastes are incorporated while giving her a sense of pride and ownership over her brand new ‘big girl’ reading nook. It’s also more likely to motivate her to pick up a book and read since after all, she helped design and arrange it herself. A warm and cozy or cool and creative reading spot that’s all hers is a great reason to pick up a book and settle down to read whether your child is home for the summer or has a few minutes to spare before bedtime.
Added Bonuses Of a Reading Corner
Setting up a reading corner for your child is the best way to pack up and donate old baby books and picture books, rearrange your child’s library and build her organizing skills.
Setting Up The Reading Nook
1. The Book Shelf:
Buy or reuse a child-sized, child-friendly shelf, rack or storage your child can use easily and independently. It could be a multi-shelf storage unit or a cardboard box of books stored under the bed – whatever you and your child decide is best for your reading space. Explore the many ways to arrange her book shelf. At home, we currently arrange books by topic and level of difficulty (‘M can read by herself’ books and ‘M needs a grown up to read to her’ books). You could also arrange by author, title, size, or language depending on what works for you and your tyke. Spend a little time talking about what you’re doing, why you’re organizing, how to maintain a neat and organized shelf, where she should put back books once she’s read them etc.
2. The Reading Chair: (or mat/ bed/bench or laundry basket)
Once your child has picked out a book she wants to read from her brand new shelf, she will need a place to read it in. A comfortable, well lit corner with minimum interruptions and away from distractions such as the TV, Wii etc. Preferably, this reading spot is a little chair, bench, mat, bed or cushion near the book shelf, next to a window or where she gets enough light to read comfortably. It helps if she has a consistent place to sit in and read, but it’s perfectly ok if there isn’t one. Kids and resourceful and will turn laundry baskets, cardboard boxes, unused drawers and floors into perfect reading spots in no time. Do give your child the option to read in an assigned spot each time and also the flexibility to choose another spot if she prefers to. As perfect as M’s reading corner seems to me, with her cozy little Princess chair and book shelf next to it all situated in our wonderfully warm sun room, she often picks a place that’s farthest away from this spot to snuggle up with a book. Her old crib by the window overlooking the swimming pool. Not a bad choice, considering that it gets a lot of sunlight and is way more comfy than Reading corner # 1. She alternates between these 2 spots and it works out just fine. So, figure out our child’s favorite reading spot and make it as inviting as possible for her to read as often as she wants to.
3. Keep it fresh: As lovely as your child’s reading corner may be and as much time and effort you may put into designing it, she will likely outgrow it…before you can heave a satisfied sigh. Whether it’s by rotating her stock of books, or by rearranging the books by difficulty level or some other criteria, or simply by choosing a different reading mat or color and decor for the surrounding walls – update your child’s reading nook every few months to pique her interest in the space and as a result, the process of reading.
4. More than books: Speaking of decor, try various ways to enrich and complement your child’s reading habit, such as by incorporating pictures of children’s authors, her favorite storybook characters, illustrators, word and letter art and photos of her reading with some of her favorite people such as grandma, a cousin, an uncle or you. Paint a wall mural of an enchanting tree, a lakeside bench or a magical forest. Take cues from the children’s section at your local library or book store and make your child’s reading corner a place she just can’t stay away from.
If you enjoy reading to your child and she enjoys reading herself, a reading nook will only make your experience even more wonderful and special. On the other hand, it may be just what you need to draw even a reluctant young reader towards books.
Where do you and your baby read? I’d love to know.