Reading dens

HomeReading dens

Reading dens

HomeReading dens

Summary: emphasise the adventure of books by creating a reading den!

Set-up: 5 – 20 mins

Play: 30 mins – all day

Complexity: Easy or more complex depending on your child’s den-building skills and interest


  • Books
  • A rug or sheet
  • Cushions or pillows

Optional extras include:

  • Ropes
  • Washing line pegs and bulldog clips
  • Torches
  • Large boxes
  • Tunnels
  • Large umbrellas or parasols

What to do

Give your child a rug or sheet and challenge them to make a reading den in an unexpected place, or, with younger children, create a den together. One idea, for example, is to drape the sheet or rug over a table, indoor clothes airer or an open umbrella. Or children might use string and pegs to create washing lines to drape their sheet over. Make use of the affordances of your own space and furniture, for example a corner with book shelves that the sheet can be fixed to. If you have a large box, this makes a great den too. The den does not need to be extravagant and is not permanent, although some children may enjoy all kinds of home-making activities.Next provide cushions, a pile of books  and perhaps a torch and some snacks. There is something about the cosiness and adventure of a den that can make book-reading super attractive! Sit down with your child to read one or two books together, which is a very special way to strengthen your relationship.


Make den-making more challenging by asking children to create dens with a limited set of resources, (such as a parasol, two lengths of rope and three bulldog clips) or that meet specific criteria (i.e. big enough for an adult to join you, or with a window to pass drinks and snacks through).

Make a sign for the reading den.

More books!

Provide a laptop or CD player to listen to an audio story.

Younger children might enjoy reading to teddy bears and dolls.

What learning does this activity promote?

Creativity, problem-solving, reading, relationships

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our early childhood webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our early childhood research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.

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