Creating a Reading Safe Haven for our Kids

It all started with my need of a bigger reading chair for my daughter’s room. She had one of those monogrammed toddler-sized ones from Pottery Barn Kids, and now that she is six, she has completely outgrown it. I thought it could be a good Hanukkah gift for her since we recently moved into a new home and we are still organizing her bedroom. I began searching online for new, larger reading chairs, but I felt so unsatisfied with what I could get her for the money.

I’m so excited that she has begun to read on her own. Since I am a book lover, I made a promise to myself that I would pass down my love of reading to my kids. My eight-year-old son took to reading in record time, and although I’m sure my passion for books rubbed off on him, he instinctively takes his own initiative to read whenever he gets the chance.

My daughter is another story {pun intended}. She loves stories, and she loves when others read to her. But she currently has less confidence in herself and gets tripped up on the bigger, harder words. She has come a long way, and is getting better at reading every day, but she hasn’t been motivated to practice on her own. I needed to figure out a way to lure her in, and remind her that reading is fun! I decided that if I could create an inviting, cozy environment for her to practice her reading, she would develop a positive association with reading, and she would want a reason to go to the same spot to read every time. An over-sized floor chair with her name on it just wasn’t going to do the trick.

That is when I decided to take the reading chair idea to the next level and create a reading nook. I began searching Pinterest, Etsy and Amazon to get ideas. I wanted to keep it simple, and not too expensive, but still super cute. I finally came across a photo that had a princess canopy hanging from the ceiling. You know, the kind you often see draping the upper portion of a child’s bed to add a princess-like flair. There was an example of a nook with a canopy and a big fluffy floor pillow inside it, and I knew that was what I was going to do.

I found the canopy here and a great floor pillow here. Then, I decided to spruce it up a little to match my daughter’s room decorations and theme. She is obsessed with tigers and other large cats, so I found small shaggy pillows, a tiger print pillow and a tiger blanket to go inside. Then, to make it extra fun, I found some star-shaped fairy lights to drape down from the top. These ones have nine different settings from which to choose, and they give off quite the beautiful glow at night if she wants to use the nook as more of a hideout or a place to relax.

Part of my daughter’s daily homework involves reading for 10 minutes, and now she has a special designated place to do that {something her first-grade teacher highly recommended at the start of the school year}. One weekend morning, about a week after setting up her reading nook, I walked into her room to see her and her brother cuddled up inside her nook reading together. It was something I envisioned when I chose to create something like this, but didn’t necessarily expect to become a reality. Of course, my heart swelled seeing them like that, and of course, I had to snap a photo to document such an adorable scene.

brother and sister reading a book together under a canopy

Whether your child is just learning to read, feeling less confident in his/her reading capabilities, or they just don’t have the motivation to read on their own accord like they do with other activities, I highly recommend finding a way to transform a space into a reading nook of some kind. It can be simple, using things you already have in your home like a make-shift fort. Or you can find an eclectic mix of items like I did that came together nicely. I can’t guarantee that it will change their reading habits, but I do believe their reading will be impacted in a positive way. Kids love having a hideout. That’s why there are so many play tents being sold these days. Why not make one disguised to encourage reading? I am so glad that I did.

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Originally from Denver, Colorado, Emily moved to Sugar Land, Texas as a young girl. She studied journalism and psychology at UT Austin, and has experience in newspaper reporting, technical writing, and freelance writing. When she can, she works on writing her first-ever book. Somehow, Emily randomly ends up living abroad for short stints of time. In 2007, while attempting to heal a broken heart, she moved to Bilbao, Spain, and completed a six-month work-study program. Despite swearing off serious relationships, her husband, Oren, swooped in shortly after her return. They struggled with infertility, but were ultimately rewarded with their two precious children, Mayer {June 2013} and Juliet {April 2015}. In 2019, Emily’s family relocated to Montpellier, France, for Oren’s job. They managed to learn the language, forever spoiled their taste buds, and saw some really beautiful things. Now back in Houston, they are eating all the Tex-Mex and enjoying family.


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