You are doing dishes or folding socks, should a miraculous matching pair arise, and your ears detect the strange sound of silence. Where are those rowdy little beings who fled the table with sauce all over their faces? What are they into now?
That’s when you happen upon them, lying on their bellies with their feet in the air, nose in a book. Earlier that day, you’d built a reading place (“a fort!” they declared), and now, here they are, in the faraway land of stories.
This is what happens when your children have a hideaway, a just-for-them reading nook at home. The best part? They’ll love it even more if it’s built with the imagination and resourcefulness and things your kids already love.
Here are our tips to build reading places in a way that’s cheap, easy and fun, fun, fun!
At Little Red Reading House, the giant Little Free Library and storybook home in Inglewood, children always flock to the secret reading crannies we’ve created under table skirts, under stairs, and under tents. There’s an element of ‘sneaking in reading’ that children seem to love.
You don’t have to do a reno or be a DIY star to make your child-size nook especially special. All you need for your reading hideaway is a sheet or a blanket and another sturdy, untippable structure – a table or even two chairs on the ground. Use hair clips or good knots to keep the blanket in place.
Now, ask your children how they want to make their reading place soft and comfy and fun. What pillows and stuffie friends will they bring inside? What little trinkets want to join on their adventures? Children love being captain and choosing their mates.
The books (and the 3B’s)
Most important of all, the books! The easiest way to get your children hooked on reading is to let them find and enjoy the kinds of books they love most, and let them revel in books of their very own.
The upcoming Calgary Reads Big Book Sale (May 12-22) might be the best place on earth to build a home library on a budget. The children’s section is enormous, but it does tend to get a lot of traffic, so if there’s a popular series or author your child is into, visit early for best selection. Then, you can go back later for special sale days (BOGO’s, fill-a-box for $20 and free book day). Plus, when you support this Big Book Sale, you help spread the joy of reading to other children and families as proceeds fuel important early literacy work in Calgary.
What do books and book-lovers need now? Book storage or shelves, and book lighting. Flashlights are always a hit with kids and touch-lamps work well too.
Depending on your setup - or how you want to carry on the reading fun elsewhere in your house - displaying books in a way that’s accessible and draws in your child can make all the difference. Would you believe IKEA’s Bekväm wooden spice rack ($8.99) or the white Mosslana picture ledge ($11.99) make the perfect children’s book display? When children can see that exciting cover and reach for it themselves – they will.
There you have it, an irresistible book nook for less than $50. The quiet, simple joy of a child falling in love with reading? Priceless.
Little Red Reading House is a magical storybook home in Inglewood that helps families discover the joy of reading together. Visit our website for a great reading place playbook and to learn more about family reading visits and fun. littleredreading.house. The Calgary Reads Big Book Sale runs May 12-22. Learn all about it at bigbooksale.ca.
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