Here’s How I’m Creating Rooms Made for Reading

published Nov 16, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Kid's Bedroom by Laura Fenton
Credit: Courtesy of Laura Fenton

November is Family Month on Apartment Therapy! We’re sharing stories all month about families — whether that’s partners, kids, roommates, parents, pets, or plants — from improving your daily relationships or going home for the holidays. Head over here to see them all!

When the school year started, my family got a bit of a rude awakening: Our son’s teacher told us our son was reading below the expectation for his grade level. Turns out that a year-and-a-half of pandemic schooling might not have been great for my emerging reader. I’m not worried about him catching up, but I was worried when he said he didn’t like reading because he was frustrated that he wasn’t reading as well as his friends. I love to read and I want my kid to love it, too!

My kid’s teachers had great advice about supporting his

Put their books on display

Picture books are treated like art on IKEA’s FLISAT book ledges we have mounted on the wall in my son’s room. However, in the past I’d displayed my favorite books — not my son’s. I had curated the shelves with the books with the most beautiful covers, which didn’t spark my son to say, “Read me a story.” When we switched it up to his favorite books, which include a bunch of junky LEGO City books and some construction-themed books that I sort of loathe, he was way more likely to ask for a book from the ledges.

Store books in their room — but not too many

Following the principles set out in the book “Simplicity Parenting,” I have strategically divided our kid book collection into two: The majority of the books are stored with our adult books in the living room, and a smaller selection of current reads gets stored in the bedroom itself. “As parents we want to promote reading, so we figure that the more books our child has access to, the more they will read,” writes author Kim John Payne, but in reality, a simplified room not weighed down with excess will actually give kids the mental space to read more deeply.

Separate reading and homework spaces

It’s a universal truth that kids hate homework, so I realized I should separate our reading time from our homework time. I also decided to separate where those activities take place. We avoid reading at the homework table and save our son’s reading aloud time to happen right before I read to him at bedtime. I am betting that a physical distinction between the places where we do reading and homework will help reading feel more like fun.

Light the way!

My son’s room gets very little daylight and has always been tricky to light. I wanted to improve the lighting for the pre-bedtime hours when we do our reading. At night, the overhead is just too bright, so we added an additional table lamp that casts a warm, diffuse glow in the room. This guarantees a cozy but well-lit room for story time.

Incorporate reading everywhere

I’ve also made a few updates to our home outside of my son’s room. I have started adding some of my son’s books to our coffee table (those pretty ones I love!), so that his books are treated in the same respect as ours. I’m also striving to read more physical books myself. I love the convenience of my Kindle, but I suspect that seeing me read an actual paper book will convey my love of reading more than seeing me looking at a device. I am also actively on the hunt for new bookcases for our family’s larger collection of books. The broken-down IKEA bookcase that we currently have isn’t telling my child that we cherish books and reading!

What about you… what have you done to encourage a love of reading in your home?