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Take a look at your book nook

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We’ve reflected on at mud kitchens lately with fascinating results, so how about another must-have feature of the modern early childhood education service: the book nook?

Like water play, quiet reading areas have been around for decades. But just as water play now often presents itself within the hip recycled timbers of a mud kitchen, for many services book nooks are a design feature inspired by and worthy of Pinterest.

With so much thought, care, and aesthetic effort being invested in these frequently fairy-lit, flower-framed, gauze-draped, corduroy-pillowed and gently-muralled zones, we thought it was time to pose a question about what’s going on inside.

The question was

A reading nook works well if _____?

Books are appropriate and respected

Courtney R kicked off the discussion with this reply

Appropriate books are available, children respect the books and the space and other children respect the children using the reading nook. The worst thing is being engaged in a story in that space and other children come in rough and loud and interrupting that experience.

Shanice M-C shared that view

[if it] Has educators who teach and example respect of books.
Nothing hurts me more than seeing ripped up and trashed books.

The space is right

Ella Jean raised the question of how location affects the use of a book nook, saying it worked well if

it has sufficient natural light, options about seating, and room for two … it’s good to have a few spots that are too small for an adult, but our children often like to read together and sometimes it’s useful to be able to tuck yourself away with just one child.

Gabrielle F. also raised location and layout,

[if it] Has places to sit or lie down in pairs or solo. Has limited distractions. I like a book shelf and baskets of books.

The vibe is right

The right ‘feel’ is something a lot of educators seek for their quiet reading zones.

Kara S. said a nook worked

If it is calming/relaxing.

While Mini S. said

[it] Isn’t over stimulating and automatically sets a calm tone for the area

It’s made with love and care

Cas shared this photograph of the nook she built, with help from family and friends

 it was an anchor for the room, the drawers contained books, blocks, story telling fealties. The boxes above had writing materials and the hanging net storage had puppets, the flowers on the wall were low wattage lights…it was such a well-used space, up to three children could squeeze on the bench seating. It also offered a safe cruising spot for just walkers who liked to pull drawers open and help themselves, as the furniture was sturdy

Image: supplied by owner

It isn’t a nook

This wouldn’t be an ECE sector discussion if everyone agreed, right?

Ruth H. said

I have a problem with designated areas, l think they serve no purpose other than control. l think it’s way more interesting, and liberating, to just not. Why limit children’s play when we can offer flexibility and choice?

Kailah B countered

quiet spaces are important, as children often need a space where they can get out of the hustle and bustle of the classroom. That said, I don’t think it needs to be specific to reading, just a cosy spot to relax.

Are designated areas just another way to control children?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Bec Lloyd

Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.

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2 thoughts on “Take a look at your book nook

  1. We recently put aside an area with 2 overstuffed armchairs, a record player with some great background tunes ready to go, a big pile of lots of different types of books and a good lamp. The first person to sit down was a mum who was overwhelmed with children climbing onto her lap and on the chair next to her. She read aloud for about 25 minutes from a book she said she had when she was a child. Our first reflection was that the children weren’t the only ones to want to read. Seeing an adult sit there invited the children in, and role modelled reading to the children and other parents. The space is now a cosy place for a child who needs a little alone time to curl up with a book, or have a nap!

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