Buddy Reading Center (in a tent)

Hi friends!

Have you been as busy as I’ve been getting the school year started? Oh, my, it’s hard to get back in the routine of early to bed, early to rise.

I want to share one of my new centers with you. You may remember that I have a goal this year of making reading fun for my students, and I have a camping theme in our library. So, what could be better than a TENT to read in!

Now, I was a little worried about having an actual, completely enclosed tent, where you can’t see what’s going on inside. No, thank you. But I found this beach cabana on Amazon for about $35, and the front is completely open. You can also see through the sides.

Our reading cabana is almost 7 feet wide, and about 4 feet deep. It was not hard to assemble, especially if you have a handy parent volunteer, and it does not have to be staked into the ground. It just sits on the carpet. I placed mine at the end of the computer carrels, so that traffic can flow around it.

I put 3 of my blue backjack chairs from Highsmith inside the tent. (The color matches almost like I planned it that way, but I didn’t.) And I put a sign at the top of the tent,  visible to ALL who enter, limiting the tent to 3 readers at a time, with a level 1 voice.

I haven’t started seeing students yet, but the teachers are ready to crawl in and enjoy a good book. I know that this will help make special library memories for our students!

So, I wonder what you’re doing in your library. How do you make YOUR reading centers special?

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    1. Hi! This is a great idea. It’s one of those, “Why didn’t I think if that?!” head slapping ideas! Quick question…do you like the quality/durability of the Highsmith chairs? I’m looking for something and wanted some recommendations.

      1. Amy, thanks for your comment! Yes, I do like these chairs. I tried beanbag chairs, but some students jumped onto them as they sat, and the seams popped. Messy!
        The backjack chairs have sturdy metal frames inside the cloth. And, although the instructions say to only spot clean the cloth, it is a sturdy cotton, so I take the covers off the chairs once in a while and wash them on delicate and hang them to dry. Clean is good.
        They are standing up well to ordinary wear plus occasional abuse from students. And they are pretty comfortable to sit in…more casual and fun than regular school chairs!

    2. I’ve had tents in our library for a couple of years now. There are 2 pillows and a flat sheet for them to use to get comfortable. Boy, do they READ! It’s amazing. They are so focused I have to remind them their class is leaving. I also let Reading teachers used them as an incentive once a week. Students that have earned the privilege come down from the classroom to read in the tents. Who wouldn’t want to read in a tent instead in their hard, uncomfortable desk. A great PR tool with the teachers. I also have a canoe in the library! Boys seem to gravitate to reading in it.

      1. Thanks for sharing your success with a reading tent. But I have to ask…where did you get the canoe? Is it comfortable to sit in? I think boys at my school would love that, too! And it would certainly surprise my principal!

    3. Hey,
      This idea is soooo cool and simple. I bet it will be really motivating. Heading down to the local Big 5 this afternoon.

      As for the backjack chairs, the kids love them but the fabric does wear out:( I just started to purchase plastic Adirondack chairs at Lowes. They are under 20 bucks a piece and very durable.

      Everyone have a great year!

      1. I’m glad to hear that you’ve had a good experience with those plastic Adirondack chairs at Lowe’s. They’ve tempted my for a while now with their bright colors, but I didn’t know if the plastic would be strong enough for wear and tear from lots of kids. Thanks for sharing, Brent!

    4. Cari,
      1 year and they are still going strong. Like you mention in your book on centers, I actually teach the students how to sit in them so they don’t get their fingers stuck between the plastic and sit in them properly. I learned this little lesson with the backjack chairs when I noticed the kids using them as rockers. One frame actually bent after it was used as a rocker.

      No doubt the backjacks will still have a home in the beach cabana tent!

      1. Brent, thanks for sharing your experience with the Adirondack chairs. I’ve blogged a buddy reading center update to encourage other librarians to give them a try.
        Happy camping!

    5. I just bought a dozen backjack chairs for our library and I hope they stand up well. They are kind of pricy as all library furniture seems to be. I hope that they show up soon as our school starts on Tuesday. . .

      1. Librarian4,
        Agreed. I’m not sure why vendors think that librarians have lots of money to spend! Just make sure to train your students NOT to rock in the backjack chairs. They don’t rock like rocking chairs!
        I hope you have an awesome school year!

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