Cone of Silence, please...
May 19, 2009 2:30 AM   Subscribe

KidsReadingCocoonFilter: looking to create an awesome reading space for voraciously reading first-grader. Ideally something better than a box... What did you have? What does your kid have?

Sure, a dishwasher box was good enough for us in first grade ("...oh we used to dream of a dishwasher box," etc...) and--heck--that might still be the best thing going, dunno...

Criteria: compact (not much space for this thing), meaningful degree of privacy (vs. kid sister and the rest of the "real world"), the cooler--the better (!), and--as always--cheap! This may be a good start, though certainly "cheap" remains open to interpretation here...! And that contraption may actually be a bit small for a first-grader--anyone have any experience with these? And, yeah, I know, it's IKEA so YMMV.

Other ideas...?
posted by TigerMoth to Education (34 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
If your child has his or her own room, putting up something to "hide" behind, like a curtain or screen, could provide the desired seclusion, especially if you put a beanbag chair or other comfortable seating and a bookshelf behind it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:37 AM on May 19, 2009

i used the floor of the closet - stacked pillows, blankets, a lamp (i'm sure it wasn't very safe). i still hang out in small secluded spaces. i think my early reading is partially why.

my brother sat under a solid wood blocky endtable that i still have to this day.

have you asked him what he would think was neat? does he want a screen? a secluded room? a more boxy type thing? maybe just ask him to draw the absolute coolest place to read and go from there?
posted by nadawi at 3:02 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Must it be inside? Would any sort of treehouse or the like be a possibility?

(I had a rock. A big rock with close enough to a natural seat in it for my young bones to handle it.)

A small tent, maybe?

And, if you're asking this question, you're probably way ahead in realizing that the more important part than the physical reading nook is that the little sister and big parents have some respect for the reading time therein.
posted by Zed at 3:08 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a tent from ikea (designed for play, not a real one) that I sat in. There, and under my bed - I had a cabin-type one that was high enough off the ground, and had a pull-out desk that if you pulled out completely let you crawl under the bed itself.
posted by gregjones at 3:21 AM on May 19, 2009

We have built a tent made out of old velvet curtains for our daughter to read in, which was fun for a book or two. But, you know, kids. She found her favorite place to hang out and read in the attic, where she found my trusty old BKF chair which allowed her to sit and read in many different positions. I once even caught her reading a book upside down. She went through the complete Harry Potter saga on this one and still loves it.
posted by ouke at 3:45 AM on May 19, 2009

I was an early and voracious reader, and while I did not have a special place to read (but what I wouldn't have given to have one! you are a very cool parent for thinking of this), I did have one thing that I am quite grateful of: a simple rule regarding reading and bedtime. I was always allowed to stay up as late as I wanted, so long as I was reading.

I am sure that is why, to this day, I don't feel right going to bed without something to read.
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:27 AM on May 19, 2009

i used the floor of the closet - stacked pillows, blankets, a lamp (i'm sure it wasn't very safe).

I used the top shelf of a closet, accessible with an old ladder. There's not enough room for an adult up there, but there is enough room for a child.
posted by Violet Hour at 4:30 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

My parents always promised me a papasan chair by a window for reading, which I thought sounded totally awesome, but I never got one until I finished college and had my own place. By that point I was too tall to curl up comfortably the way I would have when I was little. So I'd vote for that, with a cool (Ikea?) lamp overhead.
posted by olinerd at 4:50 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a tree branch, a wall just wide enough to lie down on, a space under my bed, a bath tub, behind the living room sofa even when others were watching TV, an old book shelf in a store room facing the wall so I could squeeze in. Most importantly, this was my space and one that I knew no one else would want to colonise. I would have been leery of a purpose-built space, because then it's no longer a secret and my kid sister might have coveted and invaded it.

I'm tempted to say, let your daughter find her own place - at most, 'leave' a dishwasher box, a roomy, easily-opened cabinet, or even a wicker clothes hamper about. The weirder it is, the more fondly she'll look back on it. Your job is to make sure no one ever disturbs her, and adults pretend it doesn't exist.
posted by tavegyl at 4:52 AM on May 19, 2009

Ooh... a reading space is such a cool idea, I'd never heard of it before. All those closets and everything sound awesome.

I never had one though. The book was enough of a screen in itself - it didn't matter whether I parked myself on an armchair or the couch, if I had a book everyone knew not to bother me. (And I was usually absorbed enough that I just ignored any and all interruptions anyway.)
posted by Xany at 4:53 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a bed tent - it was a set of sheets, sort of, that you put on the bed, and then put sticks in to make a pop tent. You then put normal sheets inside of it, and tata, bed + hidey hole. I loved mine. I'm sure they still have to make something like it...
posted by strixus at 5:12 AM on May 19, 2009

I had the back of a closet and the top of a garden wall. The first was awesome because it really DID feel like a cocoon (though in retrospect, was REALLY hot and stuffy, and almost certainly a fire hazard). The second was great because I had to climb for about 10 minutes to get to the top (with a pile of books!) and nobody could follow me.

Seconding tavegyl -- s/he'll figure out their own space.
posted by puckish at 5:18 AM on May 19, 2009

I sat in the cedar closet (until my mid 20s). I really like small, enclosed spaces. Earlier I had a little tent that looked like a spaceship which I kept on the floor of my room and slept in (until our elderly cat peed in it). I'd look for a small closet that you don't need the floor for, because it muffles noise and people are unlikely to go in the closet.

I have also shoved my twin bed in a corner and behind a sofa, so it's surrounded on three sides.
posted by jeather at 5:29 AM on May 19, 2009

Eh, my refrigerator box kicked ass, no sour grapes whatsoever. The thing about a big cardboard box is, it's endlessly modifiable and decoratable and drawable-on, which furniture isn't unless you're a lot more lenient than my parents were.

By the time I was done with it, it looked sort of like a rocket ship, only with skylights. Man, they need to start making bigger refrigerators. I miss that shit.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:40 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a treehouse, with a ladder I could pull inside behind me (so my little sister couldn't follow me!)

During the winter, I was allowed climb into the attic - my parents had piles of Reader's Digests up there and I would read stories like "I am John's Lungs/Heart/Kidneys" for hours :)
posted by unbearablylight at 5:58 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a cherry tree, with branches that came together in a perfect little seat. When it was in bloom it was like sitting in pink cotton candy.

I know that doesn't help, but thanks for reminding me of something that makes me smile at the start of the workday.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:02 AM on May 19, 2009

I would squeeze into a floor-level kitchen cupboard with all the pots and skillets and sit there with a flashlight and a book while my dad was cooking dinner. Occasionally I'd have to hand him the pasta pot, but it was small and dark and cozy. Damn, but I wish I still fit in there.
posted by coppermoss at 6:32 AM on May 19, 2009

I positioned my bed just far enough away from the wall so there was enough space for a big, BIG pillow, blanket, and me. I spent hours back there, and kept a lot of my books under my bed.

My daughter saw a picture of me in my reading space (I must have been about seven or eight in the picture) and asked if she could do that to her room. So now she has her little space and she loves it. My son has an upholstered reading chair that I bought at a garage sale years ago (just for him) at the end of his bed. It's a bit too small for adults but perfect for kids.
posted by cooker girl at 6:40 AM on May 19, 2009

I gotta second how awesomely fun fridge boxes are. Especially at that size. You should paint the outside gray, cut a porthole and if it's pointing up it's a rocket and if it's lying down it's a submarine.
posted by spec80 at 6:51 AM on May 19, 2009

I recently bought some kid's stuff at IKEA and was very tempted by that same egg-shaped chair, which has a nice fold-away screen for privacy and swivels. You can't see it in the pic, but the bottom is padded a bit. I didn't get it on this run (IKEA is a road trip for me), but it's on the list, precisely because I think it would make a nice place to hide away with a book, and because my kid loved the swivel feature.

As far as quality goes, that piece seemed very solid. But I do think it might be too small for a first-grader. I guess it really depends upon the size of the first-grader, and how tightly he or she would like to be cocooned.

They do have some cool play tents, as someone else already mentioned, that would also be nice. I picked one of those up, but I haven't set it up yet.

On the more expensive but possibly better tip, you could get a set of bunk beds--the sort where the bottom bed can be omitted--and hang some sheets to make a private play area beneath the top one. In a lot of ways, that would be ideal, for all kinds of play.
posted by wheat at 6:55 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a small wooden desk that sat on the floor. It had a sloping top and space underneath for me to keep some supplies. I was the sort of kid who liked to always be in the middle of everything (plus I guess it was easier for my parents too), so the desk could just be taken wherever I wanted to sit and a tiny mat placed in front of it for me to sit on.
posted by peacheater at 6:59 AM on May 19, 2009

Ooh, I'd have loved that little egg chair. I'd also have loved a blanket fort I could arrange and rearrange at will. What I did was sit in my closet or sometimes on a chain-link fence, and I had a study pillow which mostly lived on my bed but was also good for dragging into small spaces.
posted by clavicle at 7:02 AM on May 19, 2009

I briefly attended an elementary school that had some clawfoot bathtubs in the library. The tubs were lined with carpet and were quite comfy, and the high tub walls made them quiet and peaceful places to read. That's probably bigger than you want, though.

Regarding lamps in the closet: we just got two of these clip-on lights (made for the Kindle) for our kids to put on their bunkbed. They're great -- they're bright, and they don't heat up.

The Ikea egg chair is small. There's one in a waiting room my (very tall) six-year-old son and I spend a lot of time in, and he barely fits in it. Plus if you pull the hood down there's not much room for a book.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:32 AM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

The BKF chair noted above, or butterfly chair, would be great. If you sew, there are patterns available to make new seats, which worked really great for my daughter as her preferences changed. I just whipped up a new seat in a fabric she picked. It takes about two hours total to make one. A sheltered area made with sheets would add the privacy.
posted by raisingsand at 7:59 AM on May 19, 2009

I would curl up in a pile of blankets on the top shelf of my closet. It only worked when I was pretty little....
posted by kestrel251 at 8:02 AM on May 19, 2009

Good stuff all around, thanks. And great memories too... :)

Nebulawindphone's reply reminded me that I actually have a few packs of these (!!!) in the playroom closet. And so fun shall again beget fun! All remains well in the universe...
posted by TigerMoth at 8:39 AM on May 19, 2009

In my second grade classroom, there was a small, rigid plastic wading pool filled with pillows and stuffed animals, and it was the best reading spot ever.
posted by Wroksie at 8:47 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a crawlspace under the stairs to which my older brother added an alarm system...I don't remember how he did it, but if you tripped the curtain, it would ring a bell connected to a battery. I also hung out in the linen closet on a pile of old blankets, and for a time in a large box which my bro again helped me decorate.
posted by stray at 9:36 AM on May 19, 2009

I had a long horizontal bookshelf (wider than it was tall) perpendicular to the arm of the couch, with milk crates of more books on the floor in front of the bookshelf. I used to sit on the milk crates with my back against the side of the couch - it wasn't terribly comfortable, but it worked for me.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 10:38 AM on May 19, 2009

We use the crawlspace under the stairs for my daughter's "castle"


My mom made the sign over the space, my wife made the curtains, and she has her own recessed can light with a switch (bright but not hot). The tile goes just past the closet area and then there is carpet further back.

She has some toys and figurines in there, but a nice comfy foam chair and some pink milk crates for her books. We also keep some marionettes in there (wizard, dragon, jester) to play princess with her. Funnily enough, she usually wants to be king/queen and gets her playmates to be the princess.

Adults can fit in the space and this could easily be upgraded little by little as she grows.
posted by emjay at 11:15 AM on May 19, 2009

My daughter has a beanbag chair, decorated with rain-forest patterns, and shaded by an Ikea leaf. It's in a corner by a window seat that holds all her stuffed animals. It's a cozy little setup.
posted by Capri at 12:00 PM on May 19, 2009

I had a carpetted and pillow-filled bathtub in one of my elementary classrooms and its was AWWWESOME. completely fantastic and really comfortable

i also spruced up the space underneath the stairs that lead to the basement as a child. a cool option if your house has such a space.

i've seen kits for creating a little hut out of flowers in the spring and summer (depending on your climate. it just involved basically planting tall variety's of sunflowers in a circle with some other pretty flowers mixed in. you could also do it by growing beans, or other vining plants up a teepee shaped trellis.

or, how about a teepee?
posted by dahliachewswell at 1:17 PM on May 19, 2009

My favorite place to read was always the floor. I had a ton of throw pillows and would basically create a nest to lay in. Maybe toss a whole bunch of colorful, cushy pillows in one area of the room and provide a cool lamp?

However, my current version of this is a beanbag chair. Endlessly moldable to any position, and always comfortable.
posted by rachaelfaith at 4:31 PM on May 19, 2009

Here's the IKEA tent we use:
posted by AngerBoy at 3:57 PM on May 21, 2009

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