Have you got a ‘book nook’?

Alistair Bryce-CleggEnvironment, Reading, Uncategorized12 Comments

Have you got a book nook? Well, if you haven’t, you might want to consider getting yourself one or two.IMG_7936

Church Drive Primary

Not only are they a great way to use your space, they also have a fantastic impact on children’s engagement with reading.

So, what is wrong with a ‘book corner’? Well, there is noting ‘wrong’ with a book corner, but they don’t always have the impact on reading that we  think they might.


Devonshire Road Primary

When I am watching children in sessions of continuous provision, I tend to see very few who chose the book area to go and look at or share a book.

If you have a group of girls in your book area, they are usually role playing. If you have a group of boys in your book area, they are usually up to no good!


Lingham Primary

When it comes to creating spaces that really encourage children’s experience of books and that foster a love of reading, then it is important to think about:IMG_0131

Bedford Drive Primary

  • What it is that we want to achieve
  • Children’s actual reading habits  – not our reading habits!
  • How your space is linked to assessment

The ultimate goal is not just that children can read, it is that children want to read. The two things are of corse linked but the first is no use without the second.

You can have as many adult directed sessions on the carpet talking about phonemes and digraphs as you like, but if children are not inspired to use that knowledge in context then their reading progress will be slow.


Heygarth Primary

A child with a positive disposition toward reading will read more often. Because of this positive disposition, they will chose to read more often therefore improving their skills and ultimately become more successful readers. Of course, this principle doesn’t only apply to reading – it is universal.

Tufting kit

Tufting Kit from Infinite Playgrounds

In Early Years, children learn best through active, engaged, meaningful experiences. Through these experiences, they construct their own knowledge and apply their taught knowledge by interacting with their environments and others.


Heygarth Primary

Children need a great deal of direct, firsthand, interactive experience in their play and exploration. So, this has to be reflected in the environments that we create for them.

One of the great benefits of good continuous provision is that it builds on what we teach the children in our more directed interactions with them and it allows them to make their own discovered alongside what it is we feel they need to learn.


The Friars Primary

Brain research suggest that learning is easier when experiences are interconnected rather than compartmentalized into narrow subject areas. So what you might teach on the carpet needs to be reflected in provision. By the same token, your provision needs to be open ended enough to allow children to explore their own thinking.


St Mary and St Benedict Catholic Primary

(yes, that is a dog bed!)

For this reason ‘topic’ teaching is becoming increasingly outmoded with lots more settings opting a child led approach to the content of their teaching with what would have been the ‘topic’, limited to direct inputs and enhancements to continuous provision. If you theme your entire provision or even specific areas around a ‘topic’ then you are undoubtedly reducing opportunities for engagement and the disposition to learn.  Hands-on, thought-provoking experiences that are linked to children’s interests engage their curiosity, motivate them to apply their developing skills, and challenge children to think reflectively.


Grove Street Primary (climb up or go under).

If we want children who not only have the ‘mechanics’ to read but also the disposition to read, then the environment has got to support that.

Children who can read and enjoy reading tend to read. Children who can’t and don’t tend to avoid the reading corner or the reading area. Much the same as my last post about writing areas, having a reading area makes it a ‘destination’ learning space rather than an integral part of the learning environment.


Grove Street Primary

My observation of children’s reading habits also shows that they don’t tend to read in groups of 6 or 8 unless they are with an adult. They read on their own or in pairs. For this reason we don’t need to create big reading corners that stay empty a lot of the time.

That is where a ‘book nook’ comes in. A small space, often a little hidden away, where children can go to explore and enjoy a book.


Grove Street Primary ‘Nest’

Book nooks can be indoor and outdoors. They can be as simple as a table with a cloth over the top or as fancy as The Shack.


(The Shack is available to buy from Cool Canvas email here to enquire about prices and availability)


The only thing they need to be are interesting and inviting.

If you have all of your books in one space in your setting then it is little wonder that some children would rather be in the construction or the malleable materials than sitting in the book area. If, on the other hand, you have books in all of your areas then you and the children can reference them regularly in their play, making reading a more ‘real’ and ‘relevant’ experience.


The Friars Primary School


St Andrew’s Primary

I worked with a setting last year who dressed their book area like a bedroom. It looked brilliant! The children LOVED it and there was a high level of interest in visiting the space. For the first 2 or 3 days there were idyllic scenes of children sitting on the makeshift bed, under the duvet reading stories. By midweek the interest was dwindling and by week 2 there was very little reading going on just groups of boys rolling around under the duvet, well…being boys!

Dressing for interest can undoubtedly have impact in any area, but what we are looking for in longevity of interest and engagement and the acquisition of skills.


Ladybrook Primary

When you are looking at how your summative assessment is informing the space you create, then you can use the space that would have been your reading area to create other areas of provision that will help you to fill your gaps or further challenge children’s learning.

By creating smaller more inviting reading spaces and by adding books to all of your areas of provision you will be ensuring that you have maximum opportunities to make reading an integral part of children’s play and learning.

So, get ‘nooking’ and see how it makes a difference!


(New ABC Does conference venues and dates available. Click the ‘conferences tab’ at the top of the page – see you there!)

12 Comments on “Have you got a ‘book nook’?”

  1. We enhanced our book corner this year and it is definitely more of a ‘book nook’ now. It is so true that you only need space for a couple of children at a time… Ours has a Community Playthings sofa and a small beanbag in it. It’s bounded by higher furniture and we have suspended dark fabric above it with fairy lights around the edge. Our ceilings are high so we put washing lines along the walls and draped from that. Even though fewer children can fit in the book area than I’ve ever had before, it is now almost invariably used for reading. We love it… Both children and staff!

  2. My book corner is so small, I can’t decide if it’s a corner or nook! We call it The Reading Tree and I have never seen a book corner so busy, I decided this year to take out the boxes of books that come around with the themes! I choose only quality books worth having but we also have lots of comics (gets the boys in for a look) I also found having a focus story with puppets and props was a winner eg good old 3 billy goats gruff! Modelling the story and acting out also adding fact books to enhance the learning.

  3. I am trying to make sure I have books in lots of different areas but whenever I look through our ‘library’ at school I struggle to find things that are relevant. Any suggestions for where I can look for ideas? I also have a group of very enthusiastic tidiers who take any books they find in other areas straight back to the reading corner! It then takes ages to get them back to where they ‘should’ be (and it frequently doesn’t happen). However, I may have come up with a solution to this one – will see how it goes!

    1. I too have some “tidiers” and quite a few “take everything elsewhere and leave it there-ers!” I have just begun the process of trying to incorporate writing / reading into other areas of the room, and have thought about photocopying the front covers of the relevant books and sticking them onto the tops of the shelves in each area. My children are just getting used to putting things away in labelled containers or on labelled shelves (there were no labels at all when I started in January) and they are responding quite well to that so I’m hoping that will keep the books from being put back in the story corner!

    2. You can buy A4 perspex leaflet holders that can hold a book front facing and stand where ever you want. Colour photocopy the cover of the book, laminate it and stick it on the leaflet holder. The book then has a clear and safe home!

  4. Hi Alistair putting writing and reading into all areas just makes sense. I’ll definitely be looking to put a reading nook into my class. The shack looks fab but not sure we could stretch to that so will have to think of a way of creating something similar on a budget.

  5. Can you recommend any books for the play dough area, more than recipe or mod if ideas please?

      1. What Shall I Make? by Nandini Nayar is about a little boy who rolls, stretches and squeezes his piece of chappati dough into lots of things before he decides to cook it and eat it.

  6. i loved the dog bed idea – well infact I love all of these. I used to have dog bed at my other setting, which was extremely popular, snuggly and inviting. 1 child was in it ALL the time happily exploring books by himself and with his friends. Rarely a day went past when he wasn’t found in it!! However a parent was thoroughly appalled by it!! And was quite irate and vocal about it!!! I tried to defend it inviting her in to observe its popularity and its uses!! Guess who the little boys parent was? You got it! Just wanted to share as it was a fab idea with so many children and me!

  7. I am wanting to set up a couple of book nooks in my classroom and I have sourced a couple of wooden pallets that I hope to spruce up. However, regarding your post where you mentioned the bed/duvet area. Don’t book nooks end up being places where boys especially (and sometimes girls) simply go to hide, be silly etc and do not use them as places to read?

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