- Find a good spot
If there’s one thing we can do for our children, it’s to instil a love of reading from an early age. It’s not hard to do – most kids love to be read stories at bedtime, or at any time for that matter. Books transport you to another world, a place of wonder and mystery with enchanting fairies and scary monsters.
As your children get older and more independent, you can help them to grow their collection of favourite books at home. ‘Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything’ is a quote often attributed to Plato. Why not bring out your child’s inner bookworm and create a cosy kids’ reading corner in the playroom, bedroom or anywhere else in your home, where they can lose themselves in a good book?
Here, Dakota Murphey, mother of two and interior design enthusiast has put together 5 top tips to get your started. Working alongside children playroom designers, Furnished By Anna, who were consulted for some of the information in this article.
A reading corner doesn’t have to take up a vast amount of space. In fact, you’ll find that children often prefer small, den-like spaces to snugreadingle up in – it makes them feel secure. Locate the area in your home that would work best. This could be a corner of the kids’ playroom or bedroom or, if you have the space, you could set up a children’s library corner near the grown-ups’ bookcases.
Whichever location you choose, it’s a good idea to keep the book nook away from noisy distractions in the house, particularly the TV! The purpose of the exercise is to provide your child with a dedicated reading space that is truly inviting. For the reading corner to work, it must be designed so it draws in little readers like magnets. In fact, you want the space to be so enticing that your son or daughter wants to spend as much time there as possible, thus fostering a lifelong passion for reading.
- Keep it simple but child centred
A reading corner doesn’t need to be elaborately furnished, as long as it fulfils the essential requirements for comfortable seating, adequate light, and sufficient storage space filled with lots of lovely books. At its most basic, you could designate a corner of the room for reading by placing a comfy armchair next to a well-stocked bookcase.
On the other hand, if it’s meant to be a child centred book nook, shouldn’t your kids have a say in the design and layout of the space that’s intended for their use? If they are old enough, why not let them help choose colours, furnishings and accessories, and obviously the books themselves.
- Make the space inviting
For your book nook to be ‘successful’, you should choose a bright and welcoming colour scheme that your children will be attracted to. Why not try a favourite book related theme (Thomas the Tank Engine, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Jungle Book, Alice in Wonderland, Magic Ponies…) or select your child’s favourite colours to put on the wall.
Better still, if you’re happy to let your kids join in the decision making, why not let them decorate the walls with their own artwork. You could let them be creative with poster paints, creating vibrant hand painted murals to decorate the reading corner. Alternatively (and less messy), how about framing your kids’ artwork and displaying it on the wall?
- Get comfy
Obviously, you will need somewhere comfortable for the young reader to sit. So comfortable, in fact, that he will be able to forget everything around him as he travels to the faraway lands of the stories and books on the shelf. The available space, your budget and personal preference will dictate whether you use a cosy armchair or sofa, squishy bean bags or soft cushions and rugs on the floor. The chosen reading area needs to be light and bright, so that your kids don’t strain their eyes while reading. If there isn’t a window or any other natural daylight, make sure you add a lamp and enforce a strict policy of switching it on while reading. You’d be surprised how many children will happily read in the gloomy half-light without realising that it’s too dark.
- Choose child appropriate book storage
The magic ingredient in your playroom book nook are books – lots of them. Make sure there is plenty of storage space available to keep all your kids’ favourite reading material. Whether you go for solid, freestanding bookcases or wall hung shelving, it’s important for your children to be able to reach the books they want to read.
High-up book storage or piles of stacked books may look impressive, but they’re not really suitable for everyday use. In fact, for impatient little readers who can’t be bothered to ask Mum or Dad for help, they can be an accident waiting to happen.
You may also consider an additional lower storage unit or table where a smaller selection of books can be displayed, or where the book that’s currently being read can be left out.
Finally, if your children need extra encouragement with their reading, how about creating a reading chart and displaying it on the wall? You could award brownie point for each book they’ve finished, or for hours spent reading. Or it could simply be a list of books they wish to read next.