Learning Environment

Make This a DIY Summer, Part Two: Engaging Reading Spaces

Creating spaces within the classroom where style and function come together to encourage a love of reading.

When it comes to DIY projects, teachers are some of the most resourceful designers out there. Working within limited or empty budgets can often spur on their creative endeavors, and teachers definitely have a keen eye for repurposing gently used items and/or crafting new ones with a few gathered supplies and a glue gun. In Make This a DIY Summer, Part One, the focus was all about creating a variety of seating options that allow for both comfort and function. Now that some flexible seating has been established, it’s time to craft a defined space for reading.

Teachers know that when it comes time for reading, students often like to find a cozy niche in the room where they can lose themselves within the pages of a book. By creating engaging spaces with some functional components for storing and displaying a variety of reading materials, teachers can rest assured that even the most reluctant reader can be swayed to start turning the pages. Creating a dedicated area within the room and/or crafting some flexible components with a reading focus takes center stage in Part Two of Make This a DIY Summer.


Bookshelves are an essential for any classroom, but sometimes there aren’t quite enough to hold the entire classroom library or there may not be enough space to squeeze in another traditional shelf. Plastic rain gutters are a perfect wall mountable solution to save space and neatly display a variety of books. These could be mounted on a blank wall or even in the space found below a chalkboard. Another wall mounted option can be created by those with a knack for sewing and a spare double curtain rod. Some leftover fabric can be fashioned into a sling that hangs between the rods to create a pouch for storing and displaying books. For those with more space and some woodworking skills, this double-sided bookshelf would make a great classroom addition.

Seat Enhancers

By making some additions or modifications to some or all of the seating in a learning space, it can be simple to make a transformation that allows for the storage of books. Any chair with a back can become a book holder when an easily crafted book pocket is added. If the crate seating shared in Creative Seating Options is already in use, storage bins can be added to house guided reading books or titles sorted by topic. This can help ensure that all reading materials needed for instruction are stored in one area that is easily accessible.


It’s no secret that a rug can both define and enliven a space with a reading nook being no exception. The big secret reveal may come from the fact that a cost-effective rug can be created from bed sheets. With a few throw pillows added to the area, this can really become an inviting focal point in the classroom. Don’t let size be prohibitive if a gently used rug is found. Some DIY measures can turn any oversized rug into a custom creation. Rugs are an excellent way to add some interest and warmth to a learning space regardless of whether the area is carpeted.

Magazine Racks

Magazines are a great addition to any reading nook, but finding a way to display these flimsier reading materials that allows students to easily view the selections can be tricky. Shutters are a perfect resale or rummage find that can easily be transformed into wall-mountable magazine racks. A rack could also be made from scratch using some wood and electrical cord. If a shelf-like option is more appealing, some easy-to-follow instructions for building a wooden holder that can mount to the wall may be the route to go.


Some hot air can be all it takes for a DIY project to come to life. Picking up an extra inflatable pool or the plan to repurpose the one currently filled in the backyard offers a spot for students to dive into reading. If the current learning space doesn’t allow this to be a permanent fixture, it could be brought out on special occasions and/or to enliven students during the colder months. With some cushions tossed in for added coziness, this will surely become a favorite spot for a relaxing read.

When the classroom is need of a makeover and budgetary concerns require some cost-effective options, our DIY series has you covered. Engaging spaces with well-displayed and easily accessible reading materials are a must-have to ensure students are captivated by time spent doing this fundamental element of learning. Whether the larger part of the project is legwork or sweat equity, there are numerous ways to liven up a learning space without breaking the bank. Be sure to check back for the next installment in our Make This a DIY Summer series about designing math manipulatives.

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