If you are a self-contained or RLA teacher, you might consider some of my reading corner ideas to your classroom.
A reading corner is a special place in your classroom where kids can read for enjoyment. It’s usually a small spot that can comfortably seat one or two students either on the floor or in non-traditional seating.
Reading corners don’t necessarily even have to be in a corner! Any place that you designate for reading will do just fine, provided you make it feel rewarding and comfortable.
What do you put in a reading corner?
These reading corner ideas don’t require a lot of space, or even a huge library. Here are my ideas for small spaces, although you certainly don’t need all of these!
- a collection of your favorite age-appropriate books displayed neatly – these can be on a rotation
- something to sit on: a rug, lounge pillows (try a thrift store for super cheap pillows and then cover them with something fun, special chairs, even an exercise ball can work
- stuffed animals (for younger friends)
- creative lighting – rope lights, twinkle lights, a lamp
- inspirational posters
How do you decorate a reading corner?
You’ll want your reading corner to feel extra special, particularly if you’re using it as a reward. But how?
First, can you make it look like a mini bookstore instead of a traditional classroom library? One way to do this is to showcase fewer books and face them cover forward, as pictured below. With older kids and more space, you can spotlight just a few of your favorites by putting them on book stands.
If your book spines will be facing out, consider ordering them by color to make it feel cohesive and tidy. Remember, a reading corner isn’t about learning genres or practicing alphabetizing; instead, it’s about a beautiful little spot for students to enjoy reading. Using a rainbow system like I’ve done at home will allow kids to be more successful with reshelving.
Next, think about textures. Adding stuffed animals or fluffy pillows is one way to make it feel homey for students. I like to find vintage ones at resale stores and just Lysol spray them a couple of times each day. You can also recover inexpensive thrift store pillow with cutesy, affordable ones from Amazon.
This teacher found a rug that matched her classroom theme: black gingham. By simply leaning a pillow against her bookcase, she’s created a comfy spot without spending tons of extra money on furniture.
Finally, think about adding a lamp if you like to dim your overhead lighting. I love to read in bed with a lamp. It’s much more soothing than a bright fluorescent bulb in the ceiling. Rope lights and Christmas lights can accomplish the same mood.
Who gets to visit the reading corner?
There are several different ways you can implement a reading corner in your class:
- as a good behavior incentive that kids can use
- as a “center” where all kids get to rotate through the reading corner in small groups
- as an early finisher activity – if kids complete an assignment with quality before the timer, a couple may have permission to enjoy the special reading corner
I would caution against adding reading journals or requiring annotation in the reading corner, because you want the focus to be on reading for enjoyment, not to practice skills.
Reading Corner Ideas for the Classroom
Here are my reading corner ideas that can be translated to any classroom environment.
Use unexpected furniture where kids can rest.
Whether you’ve got a couch, a bean bag, an exercise ball, flexible seating, or a piece of wooden furniture, you can make it work! The teacher whose classroom is pictured below has a really cool bench in her classroom. In addition to some handy storage space underneath, she’s added pillows to make it even more inviting.
Keep it low maintenance for both students and yourself.
Above, you can see that the teacher’s set-it-and-forget-it inspirational posters won’t require her to continually update, which will save her valuable time later in the year.
You have tons to monitor already, especially if you teach a tested subject. You don’t need one more thing to update regularly.
Provide reading suggestions for kids.
I love these posters because it gives kids a quick idea of what to read based on their interest levels rather than current reading levels. This will encourage them to try books that may challenge them.
This particular example demonstrates that reading corners aren’t babyish; it’s all about what you prioritize and how you set them up.
Use special lighting and fabrics in your reading corner.
This teacher has used a lightweight, gauzy fabric and twinkle lights to make her reading corner feel like a fun hangout space.
It’s important that you can see what kids are doing in the reading corner, so an opaque fabric won’t work. This teacher’s groovy theme was executed brilliantly with her DIY design.
Consider having a theme for your reading corner.
Some teachers can’t resist a great theme, whether it applies to the whole classroom or just to their reading corner.
For example, you can put up a bunch of outer space posters and have rocket ship pillows in a “Blast Off with Reading” theme.
If you want to do a travel theme, you could put up a sign reminding guests that reading allows them to travel the world without ever leaving the couch. Then, decorate with maps, modes of transportation, or tourist posters.
In the younger grades, your reading corner could have a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom theme if you add a coconut tree and a bunch of oversized colorful letters climbing the trunk.
This can be a great centerpiece for any classroom theme, so make sure it integrates nicely with the rest of your space.
Teachers don’t get much flexibility anymore with our curriculum, so it can be really fun to get creative with your space. After all, this will be your second home for 9 months out of the year.
Don’t take your reading corner too seriously; remember, this is an opportunity for you and your students to rediscover the pleasure of reading.
To see more reading corner ideas, check out this round-up post.