Children’s outdoor reading spaces

Outdoor reading space ideas for children

Outdoor reading space resources, with bean bags, tents, pop-ups, teepees, wigwams, hammocks, pouffes, giant outdoor cushions, outdoor classrooms, reading sheds, garden playhouses and reading treehouses. There’s lots of inspiration here for your dream outdoor reading space at school or home. We tried to source practical, hard-wearing and long-lasting resources that offer long-term value for a variety of settings. Also included are teaching ideas, current academic thinking regarding the benefits of reading outside and how using alternative settings can benefit mindfulness and creativity.

Outdoor reading space for children

For book prices and ordering, click on the cover image. International orders click here
As an Amazon Associate schoolreadinglist.co.uk earns from qualifying purchases.

Children’s outdoor reading space resources – our recommendations

Bean bags

Gardenista Bean Bag Pouffe

Hard-wearing with weatherproof covers, non-fade colours and wipable surfaces, these Gardenista pouffes double as cushions that will seat two small children, or an adult, or could be used as a footstool for lazing in the garden with a good book. With a rectangular shape, these 45 x 65 x 30 cm bean bags are easy to store.

Gardenista Bean Bag Pouffe

Gardenista Extra Large Water Resistant Bean Bag

This durable outdoor bean bag chair is super comfortable and includes lots of innovative features such as air vents, a removable washable cover, replaceable Premium Grade EPS Polystyrene Beads, and UV protection to prevent fading.  It will sit one adult or larger child, and two smaller children and it’s perfect for reading outside.

Gardenista Extra Large Water Resistant Bean Bag

Gardenista Outdoor Bean Bag Chair

At 65 x 90 x 90 cm, this is a large and comfortable high-backed bean bag chair that’s ideal for people looking for back support and an outdoor chair to sit on and lose hours reading a book. It’s perfect for gardens, patios, decking or the beach. It comes in four colours: vibrant gold, vivid green, summer grey or ocean teal.

Gardenista Outdoor Bean Bag Chair

Gardenista water-resistant giant outdoor bean bag cushion

This enormous bean bag is a practical and effective way to provide instant outdoor seating for your reading area. Measuring up at 160 x 125 x 30 cm, one adult can lie on it like a sofa or a group of smaller people can all fit on it for cosy group reading. There’s a convenient carry handle and a waterproof cover.

Gardenista water resistant giant outdoor bean bag cushion


Tents and pop-up shelters

WolfWise 4-5 Person Easy Up Beach Tent with UPF 50

This clever pop-up tent uses an umbrella-style system to go from rolled up and packed away to ready to go in under a minute. Equally at home on grass, patios and paving, as well as on the beach, this large tent will fit 4-5 adults or quite a few more small children. The extendable mat creates a big surface footprint that’s perfect for outdoor group reading.

WolfWise 4-5 Person Easy Up Beach Tent with UPF 50

WolfWise 3-4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent with UPF 50+

The smaller version of the WolfWise tent features all the benefits of the larger tent including UPF 50+ sun factor protection, water-repellent fabric, and cleverly designed mesh window privacy, ventilation and wind protection. There are also anchor points to keep the tent secure in a breeze.

WolfWise 3-4 Person Easy Up Beach Tent with UPF 50+


Outdoor reading corners

Large Wooden Outdoor Reading Corner

At 150cm x 190cm x 245cm, this large reading corner not only provides shelter, but exciting display space for your outdoor library. Open the doors, let the sunshine in and get ready for exhilarating reading sessions outside! Well-built with solid materials, this reading corner is highly recommended.

Large Wooden Outdoor Reading Corner

Outdoor classroom reading room with benches

This airy but sturdy reading shelter offers shade and a peaceful setting for your outside reading groups. With moveable bench seating and shelves to stack or display reading books, this is a practical solution for both smaller and larger groups of children.

Outdoor classroom reading room with benches

EYFS reading play den

This wonderful chalet-style play den for early years children offers a sheltered reading veranda, solid redwood construction, artisan Georgian-style windows and 36 square feet of reading accommodation. It would make a wonderful addition to your school grounds or a stunning garden showstopper.

EYFS reading play den

Outdoor wooden reading classroom with bookshelves

Step into this spacious triple-aspect outdoor shed-style library that offers lots of space for creative librarians to display books, promote reading for pleasure and encourage reading on the school grounds.

Outdoor wooden reading classroom with bookshelves

Outdoor wooden reading shed with bookcase

Give your outdoor literacy provision an instant boost with this ready-assembled reading shed complete with a blackboard,  triple shelf integral bookcase and lots of space for resources.

Outdoor wooden reading shed with bookcase

Outdoor reading nook for children

This charming wooden reading nook is great for shady groves, cosy garden corners or secluded spots on the school grounds. With cushions included and three storage tubs, it could be a hub of outdoor reading for your children.

utdoor reading nook for children


Hammocks

Outsunny Outdoor Hammock with Stand

Keep your children in suspense by reading engrossing mysteries on this super-stripy outdoor hammock! With a TikTok trendy arc design and washable fabric, it’s well built and easy to assemble, disassemble and store away.

Outsunny Outdoor Hammock with Stand

Wooden Rocking Chair for Kids

Rock up for outdoor reading with this sturdy and practical wooden chair that’s perfect for early years children. With an adjustable pillow, wipeable fabric, and funky design this super stable design is highly recommended.

Wooden Rocking Chair for Kids


Wigwams and Teepees

Neo Large Canvas Children Indian Tent

Who can resist a stripy seaside-themed teepee to read, roleplay, play in or hide in? Perfect to use indoors or outdoors at home, this easy-to-clean cotton canvas 150 x 120 x 120cm tent is easy to assemble and store and will provide hours of fun for younger children.

Neo Large Canvas Children Indian Tent


Dream outdoor classroom treehouses

Spectacular outdoor reading classroom

This incredible castle-style outdoor space is big enough to hold a class of children, according to manufacturers Red Monkey Play. With two storeys to read your stories, children will love the sense of space and adventure and outdoor reading time will never again be mundane.

Spectacular outdoor reading classroom


Ultimate grand designs style hideaway garden/school grounds reading playhouses

Hideaway garden playhouse

With a Nordic alfresco feel, this bijou playhouse will spark your children’s imaginations and provide an enchanting space to read in comfort, listen to stories or hide overdue library loans. It’s also guaranteed for 15 years against rot.

Hideaway garden playhouse

Nature discovery eco playhouse for gardens

This eco-literacy hub includes a clear painting screen to write and draw in, a curtain for hideaway storytime, a wooden letter box to post mystery messages, wind chimes, a planter, integrated guttering and an eye-catching curved roof.

Nature discovery eco playhouse for gardens

Bunny Max tower playhouse for gardens

This imposing structure offers good long-term value for money and blends an outdoor potential reading alcove with pure fun. A big bonus is the amount of storage space inside. For accelerated reading on summer afternoons, try the optional slide!

Bunny Max tower playhouse for gardens


Outdoor reading books

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Where better to read about the most incredible imaginary treehouse than outside in a treehouse? This bestselling series by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton is a surefire winner for KS2 children – especially those who are less confident readers.

The 13-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Teaching the Primary Curriculum Outdoors by Learning Through Learning Through Landscapes

This resource for primary school teachers is a goldmine of ideas for teaching and learning outdoors. With practical ideas covering all curriculum subjects, this book covers planning your outdoor education, challenges to expect and how to overcome them, and how to make outdoor learning inclusive.

Teaching the Primary Curriculum Outdoors by Learning Through Learning Through Landscapes

Learning Outside the Primary Classroom by Shonette Bason, Barbara Maines, George Robinson

With a focus on personalised and bespoke learning, this fascinating book is full of useful ideas for moving the curriculum outside and beyond the classroom. Very strong on practical activities, this book is highly recommended for helping to provide evidence to underpin your school’s outdoor learning planning and provision.

Learning Outside the Primary Classroom by Shonette Bason, Barbara Maines, George Robinson


Click the buttons below to purchase all of the books in this outside reading spaces resource, as well as class sets of any of these books and many more, from Bookshop.org UK. Or buy the 20 most popular items from this list from Amazon – ideal for the home or your classroom library.

Buy from UK.Bookshop.Org Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Disclosure: If you buy outdoor resources using the links above, we may receive a commission. If you purchase books using the buttons above: we may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops; as an Amazon Associate schoolreadinglist.co.uk earns from qualifying purchases.

Schools & teachers: please respect copyright and don’t copy our outdoor reading spaces resource. If you find our book recommendations useful, please consider sharing on social media or linking to this page instead. Thanks.


Educational benefits of outdoor reading

Reading outdoors offers a different, peaceful, and often more exciting setting for reading. The benefits of outdoor reading are underpinned by research and we hope the practical insights below will positively impact student engagement and well-being. From improved concentration to vitamin D, outdoor reading offers advantages teachers can use to help promote reading for pleasure at home and in school.

A creative environment encourages creative reading

  • Outdoor reading environments provide a break from the classroom.
  • An outdoor space can aid reading imagination and creative thinking. It’s also a great setting for storytelling.

Reading outdoors encourages a connection with the environment

  • Reading outside is a different sensory experience.
  • The sights, sounds, and textures of the outdoors create a backdrop for storytelling, reading to a class or shared reading.
  • Research indicates that exposure to natural environments can stimulate cognitive functions and improve memory recall.

A great setting for smaller reading groups

  • Outdoor reading spaces are great for smaller, more intimate reading groups.
  • A smaller setting, away from the classroom can help to cultivate a sense of reading ownership and independence.

Mindfulness meets reading

  • Outdoor reading spaces promote relaxation and mental well-being.
  • Research suggests that exposure to natural light and fresh air can alleviate stress and enhance cognitive function.
  • Spending time reading outdoors offers an opportunity to absorb vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight triggers the body’s natural production of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in bone health, immune function, and overall well-being.

How outdoor spaces can help children’s reading for pleasure at school

  • Outdoor reading spaces offer something different.
  • Reluctant readers are often more positive about reading outdoors.
  • Reading outside can be replicated at home, on holiday and outside of school time.
  • Children who see adults enjoying reading outside may be prompted to do the same.
  • The time pressures, close proximity to other people and distractions associated with a classroom setting might vanish into thin air when reading in the open air.

References:

  • Gatersleben, B., & Andrews, M. (2013). When walking in nature is not restorative- The role of prospect and refuge. Health & Place, 20, 91-101.
  • Berto, R. (2005). Exposure to restorative environments helps restore attentional capacity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 25(3), 249-259.
  • Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature: A psychological perspective. Cambridge University Press.
  • Milfont, T. L., & Schultz, P. W. (2016). Culture and the natural environment. Current Opinion in Psychology, 8, 194-199.
  • Rudd, M., Vohs, K. D., & Aaker, J. (2012). Awe expands people’s perception of time, alters decision-making, and enhances well-being. Psychological Science, 23(10), 1130-1136.
  • Ottosson, J., & Grahn, P. (2005). A comparison of leisure time spent in a garden with leisure time spent indoors: On measures of restoration in residents in geriatric care. Landscape Research, 30(1), 23-55.
  • Van den Berg, A. E., Maas, J., Verheij, R. A., & Groenewegen, P. P. (2010). Green space as a buffer between stressful life events and health. Social Science & Medicine, 70(8), 1203-1210.
  • Li, D., Sullivan, W. C., & Wu, J. (2016). Gender differences in restorative effects of nature-based experiences: A meta-analysis. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B, 19(7), 383-399.
  • Hartig, T., Mitchell, R., de Vries, S., & Frumkin, H. (2014). Nature and health. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 207-228.
  • Houlden, V., Weich, S., & de Albuquerque, J. P. (2018). The relationship between greenspace and the mental well-being of adults: A systematic review. PLoS ONE, 13(9), e0203000.

Additional reading and resources

  • The Woodland Trust offers a thorough free activity pack that explores all aspects of outdoor learning for primary teachers in UK schools
  • The Scottish Book Trust has ten exciting activity ideas for what you can do with any book outside. We particularly liked the breadcrumb trail and book garden ideas!
  • Heinemann Podcast features a must-listen conversation with Valerie Bang-Jensen and Amy Ludwig VanDerwater about teaching literacy outdoors – with lots of achievable and practical activities. We loved the word gardens.


About Tom Tolkien

Photo of author
Tom Tolkien is a highly qualified (BA Hons, PGCE, QTS) children's literature expert and teacher with over 25 years of experience. He has led inset courses, developed curriculum materials, spoken at conferences, advised on longlisting for several international children's literature literature awards and written for educational publishers including contributing to a BETT award-nominated app. Social profiles: Twitter | Linkedin

This resource was last updated on May 16th, 2024 and first published in 2024.