WHAT IS A READING NEST?
A reading nest is created in a kindergarten, school or library or elsewhere in cooperation, where both the children and the adults are creators who make a cosy place in which to browse and read books.
The reading nest should have something soft and comfortable in it, the nest is somewhat separated from the rest of the room, books are displayed well, and there are reading games, toys and other items that its visitors like. The nest could tempt children cunningly too, a splendid car with a car book in the nest might do the trick and spark interest in books.
The reading nest is a place with a purpose, created with love and care. This is the place for reading, looking at pictures, browsing, or playing games.
If, after reading this, you would like to set up a reading nest, we have some advice:
Furniture in a school or a kindergarten classroom is arranged so that it enables a child to “slip into the nest”, and work alone, in a pair or a small group.
Furniture and furnishings are soft, cosy, wholesome and age-appropriate. Thus a reading nest might have cushions, a sofa, an armchair, a rag rug, shelves, a table, chairs etc. Children can use various sources of light and do their reading on their own or with others.
Books/materials are accessible, age-appropriate, thematic, varied, interesting, at different levels of complexity, and change according to topics covered in the study programmes. The reading nest should contain a variety of texts: books (fiction and non-fiction), periodicals, applied literature, manuscripts and books created by children. The nest should also have audio books (CDs, MP3 player, digital reading pen or other form of digital systems), materials for writing and crafting (papers, pencils, crayons, scissors, paints, a paper hole punch, string, a staple punch, leftover materials etc.), reading and picture materials, reading games, board games and creative games (puppets, costumes etc.).
A reading nest has a sign to show that it is a reading nest (logo). Rules/agreements of the reading nest are displayed and visible to everybody.
Children who may need some help in discovering the written word, would benefit from using a digital reading pen (a digital device without a screen), which enables the child to explore texts independently. The reading pen reads pre-recorded books, asks questions and riddles, and provides immediate feedback. The advantage of the reading pen is the absence of the screen, and the child is able to discover real (paper) books, maps, drawings etc. in an exciting and interactive way.
Should the reading nest have a computer? Teachers have a difference of opinion in this matter. If the computer is an older model and unsuited for gaming, it can be used by younger children who can create texts (even if lines of letter) and obtain literacy. An up-to-date multimedia computer or digital device would allow playing various games enhancing literacy, do search and create texts. However, the reading nest should not become another computer lab.
It is a matter of agreement between teachers, children and parents whether and how technology is used for writing in the nest. If agreements are concluded and followed, a computer would be of great help. Furnishings and tools should not be limited to modern technology only. Children are similarly interested in old-fashioned tools, such as slate pencils, chalks and chalk boards, quills and pens, or typewriters.
As for books and other materials it is important that they change and alternate hand in hand with learning topics. A reading nest could also have some dear old picture and fairy tale books, which are always available, but certainly fiction, popular scientific and research texts should be available in accordance to current topics in studies.. Craft and writing tools and games should also be re-circulated every now and then, this helps to make the nest more attractive, prevents cluttering and ensures a cosy and tidy environment.