Since my boys were babies, I’ve been keen to make books and reading feel very special. This doesn’t mean saving books for special occasions or insisting they are treated more carefully than other toys – this would totally ruin their appeal!
It’s about making the experience of sharing books special. Reading together at bedtime is a big part of this – it’s a special, snuggly time when your attention is totally on the child.
Video: Make a reading den
Make a reading den to make reading fun for your child with these simple ideas from Isabel Thomas.
How to build a reading den
Reading dens are a way to bring that feeling into other parts of the day. Reading dens are special spaces to curl up with a book. They don’t need to be extravagant or permanent – in fact temporary dens, built from household objects are best.
There are loads of different ways to make one. Challenge your child to use a rug, sheet or even a pile of cushions to create a cubbyhole in an unexpected place.
You could turn a huge cardboard box into a reading castle, or drape a rug or sheet over a washing line to create a reading tent. Small children can even snuggle up under an umbrella on a rug.
To turn a den into a reading den, just add cushions, blankets… and books! Sitting down to read one or two books together is a reward at the end of the den building.
Children love the novelty of reading in unexpected places – outdoors, or in the dark with a torch. If you crawl in and share just one book with them, that’s a special experience.
The den might only last a few days or hours before you pack it up – but it’s the novelty that’s important. No expensive teepees or tree houses needed! And it’s fun to start from scratch again next time.
Reading dens will help your child to associate books with adventures – which is exactly what they are!