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February 27, 2017

3 Steps to Create a Montessori Inspired Reading Area

Reading is a hugely important part of our daily lives. Not a single day goes by where we are not reading for an hour or more during the day. In order to make our house as reading friendly as possible, we have several reading areas set up throughout our home. This post features our main reading space in our common living room and 3 Steps to Create a Montessori Inspired Reading Area of your own. Just as we prepare our home for other independent activity -- dressing, eating, working -- it's also important to prepare the environment for reading.

"Having prepared an environment scaled to the child and having been exposed to the freedom created by his impulses toward activity, we have seen characteristics in the child who is tranquilly at work that have never been seen before." Maria Montessori 

3 Steps to Make a Montessori Inspired Reading Area

Creating a child-friendly, independent reading space doesn't have to be hard at all! In fact, a beautiful Montessori inspired reading area can be created in three easy steps! 

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1. Accessible Shelving

As with any Montessori space, a reading area needs to be accessible to the child. While traditional bookcases may work well for adults, they rarely work for children who need to see the front of the book to remember the title they are searching for. So, with traditional bookcases, they books tend to all get pulled off the shelves and thrown everywhere. In contrast, forward facing bookcases allow for children to independently retrieve and put away books. This makes reading easier and keeps order in a space. 

This shelving does not need to be super expensive large wooden shelving {although many commercial options exist for this too} but it can be as simple a wooden crate or basket on the floor. Small wall frames or picture ledges also work great for holding books and making them accessible for children. Basically, anything that allows your child to gather and put away a book independently will work!

Our bookcase is nothing super fancy, but it is well loved! We use a forward facing double sided wooden bookcase. I found this one at a thrift store for only $14! Using this type of bookcase has made all the difference in our reading area. It keeps things need and draws the children's attention.

2. Add Some Cozy 

Not only do we want a reading nook to be accessible, but we also want it to be cozy and inviting. We want the area to suck children in. Invite them to stay away. To curl up and get lost in the wonder of the book they are reading or looking through.

Small Armchair / Rocker / Chair / Floor Pillow / Rug

Again, this can be achieved in a variety of ways and tailored to your home. It may mean placing the shelving in an actual little nook {like a closet, tent or tight corner}! It may mean adding a child sized chair for your child. Or a larger chair for both of you. In some cases, a floor pillow or a few smaller pillows can create an inviting corner. A soft rug can invite a child to lay down. 

Our main reading area is in the corner off of our living room. So, we've chosen a rug to define the space, but don't include any furniture. Just a few feet away are our couches so if the kids want to sit somewhere other than the floor, or if we want to read together, we can. In some of our other reading areas, we use small chairs and pillows to make the area cozy and fun. 

3. Don't Forget the Little Details

Finally, don't forget about the little details! These are the little things that make the space visually appealing and beautiful. It could be the perfect little lamp, a family picture, a favorite toy. Anything to give the space that extra little pop. I really love plants for this purpose, because not only do they help the environment, but they are beautiful and provide amazing practical life experiences. 

In our space, we have a plant and our Grimm's Rainbow. Both just brighten the space, further calling the kids to explore. We also have our Grimm's pyramid of blocks near by. I often find that a good story will inspire the kids to build all sorts of amazing projects so I love pairing the two together. 

Do you have a reading area in your prepared environment? How do your kids like it? 

3 steps to create a Montessori inspired reading area at home. This post contains tips on how to create a reading friendly home for children.

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