Is A Book Nook Always Best?

Late last night, I wrote this blog post. Something has been bothering me since I published it, but also, since we decided to re-arrange our classroom: how can a Book Nook area function well beside dramatic play? As I said in my post last night, “this goes against everything I know about self-regulation and micro-environments” … or at least I thought that it did until I spoke to my teaching partner, Paula, again this morning. Now I wonder if this could be another case of needing to change my perspective

I look at this photograph of our combined house/book area, and I start to feel overwhelmed. 

The space seems so big. How can it not be loud and chaotic? While I still stand by what I wrote last night that the new arrangement of the room is helping children use the space better, which is making it quieter and calmer, I think there’s another important point to consider: a Book Nook area is only beneficial as a calm space if students choose this space to self-regulate. 

No matter how inviting we tried to make the Book Nook space, students did not seek out this area to calm down. Drawing, writing, painting, beading, or sensory play, are all things that help our students feel calmer. A few children may go and read a book in this special space during the day, but many children access books and other texts in different parts of the room instead. So if this space is largely empty, is this micro-environment really working for our kids?

Now our quiet space has a cozy table for creating and a light table that also invites some sensory play.

Since these spaces align with how our children self-regulate, our new room arrangement actually leads to calmer play. Plus, with the books connected to the house, more students are reading these books or sitting down for a story with one of us.

I can’t help but think again about Stuart Shanker and self-regulation: we cannot underestimate the important SELF component of Self-Reg. A quiet Book Nook area may work in some classrooms, but does it work well in yours? If not, what do your students need to self-regulate? In a Kindergarten classroom, where many children are just learning to read, I start to wonder about the potential cognitive stressor of a separate reading area. But by linking reading to a space where students feel more comfortable and less pressure (i.e., dramatic play), is this area used better? Could different options in the “quiet area” actually be more beneficial for kids? I would love to hear about your experiences as we continue to further analyze ours.


2 thoughts on “Is A Book Nook Always Best?

  1. This is very interesting. I have never thought of the quiet book nook as a space that could be a “stressor”.
    In my classroom the book nook is not used as often as I would like. Some students do go to this space for quiet time; others use it as another dramatic play space; there are only a few students who visit this space to look at books and read. I like the idea of having multi-use spaces that appeal to different interests and needs. It would be interesting to hear what other teachers have paired with the quiet area/book nook.

    • Thanks for your comment, Carolyn! I never considered that this space could be a stressor until I started thinking more about why this new arrangement is working better and why very few students went to this space in the past. Then I thought about my experience last year. It was only when we added some puppets, puzzles, and games that people went to this Book Nook space. As adults, I think we love the idea of this space because many of us seek out quiet, and even books, to self-regulate. I’m wondering if this is what children do though — especially beginning readers and/or struggling readers. I never would have thought about pairing this quiet space with dramatic play (usually louder), but this pairing has highly increased the number of children that go to read. They are also using books to tell stories and “read” to dolls. I’d be curious to know what others do with this Book Nook space as well, and what they might align it with to increase student use.


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