Teachers know few things are more important in a student's development than the relationship they build with the written word when reading. But teachers also know it has become more difficult to get a book in their children's hands. Even in the classroom, convincing students to pick up a book beyond the required reading is a challenge.
So what's an educator to do?
Good news: classroom reading nooks have become a great way to motivate children to ditch their screens for a book. That means some creative interior design work may be all it takes to steal the interest of your students back.
What are classroom reading nooks?
Classroom reading nooks are cozy spaces designed by teachers to encourage RECREATIONAL READING ONLY.
If you want your nook to inspire leisurely reading for fun, students mustn't be allowed to do anything else in the space. If they want to enjoy the comfort and ambiance you're providing, they need to find a book to cozy up with first.
Fun classroom reading nook ideas
Once you've written that one rule in stone, the rest is up to you. All reading nooks are different. The only limit is your imagination.
With that in mind, most are built on a foundation that includes some variation of the following...
Beanbag chairs are a favorite for most young readers. Big cushions and cozy ottomans will also work. It's especially nice when seats can be moved around by the kids so they can settle alongside friends to read quietly.
Books. Lots of Books.
Make sure to stock the shelves with a variety of titles. Just like any library, you'll want to include books from a wide range of genres and reading levels. Don't forget: kids love scary books, graphic novels, and hi-lo books. These will pull even the most reluctant reader in class into your new reading nook.
Decorate like a Nerdy Bookworm
Fill your nook with items that will remind students that reading really is cool. Hang posters for popular series. Decorate with toys, props, and action figures inspired by bestselling titles.
Set the Mood
Ambiance is important. Some cool lighting and classical music can make kids feel like they're stepping out of the classroom into a whole new world.
Find a way to let kids enjoy audiobooks if they prefer them. Remember: audiobooks build fluency and reading comprehension just like traditionally printed titles.
Make it a Game
Add a bulletin board that lets students track what they've chosen to read on their own. Be careful, though. Don't reward students for the act of reading. The purpose of a classroom reading nook is to convince children that reading itself is the reward.
What benefits might teachers see from a reading nook?
While we know classroom reading nooks are designed to foster an appreciation for reading, when students take advantage of their opportunity to settle in for a leisurely read, teachers can expect to see even more results...
When kids are given a chance to explore literature on their own, it inspires them to become more engaged in their reading. This often leads to greater engagement in the classroom, as well.
An Improved Focus
Away from their desk and other distractions, comfortable kids can stop fidgeting and allow a story to cast its spell. The deeper a student's focus while reading, the more likely they are to improve their fluency and comprehension.
When struggling readers have books available that match their interests and grade level, these children are far more likely to push forward through a book to improve their skills. Look for some solid hi-low books to have on hand for these reluctant readers.
A Stronger Sense of Community
A classroom reading nook encourages interaction amongst students, allowing your kids to build friendships around a shared love of books. When children feel like they are enjoying books together, they're more likely to go home and continue that on their own.
New Coping Skills
The best reading nooks offer an atmosphere for students to relax while taking a break from their studies. Learning to put everything aside and quietly unwind with a book is a skill students can use to conquer stress later in life.
When students begin reading for fun, they learn to explore different genres and discover new authors that interest them, a habit they'll need to practice often if they are to become independent readers in the future.
With a classroom reading nook, teachers can create an inviting and comfortable space that encourages students to connect with books that interest them. When successful, that connection can improve fluency and reading comprehension. Even better, it's likely to foster a love of reading children carry with them for years.
Don't forget to stock your shelves with some of tween books published by your friends at Ghoul School.
Check Pinterest to find some inspiring classroom reading nook ideas.