How to Create a Reading Den in Your Office

Category: Reading

For Book Week Scotland 2015, we challenged the homes and offices of Scotland to create reading spaces.

It wasn't just for sport. Research proves that reading can reduce stress, fast. Plus, it improves our concentration, empathy levels and communication skills. With those facts leaping off the page, surely every workplace should being doing their utmost to provide spaces for their staff to read during the day, or night?

We didn't want to challenge without putting some skin in the game. A plan was hatched: we were going to get our staff team up for Book Week Scotland 2015 by creating our very own reading space ahead of the week itself. 

Book Week Scotland tends to encourage tangents. For our plans, this came during a chance conversation with artist Charlotte Duffy. Charlotte created a beautiful reading mural for Book Week Scotland 2014 on Saltcoats Library. But now, she had turned her artistic attention back to her childhood passion: building dens. Planets aligned. We wanted to create a reading space at our fairy tale castle in Edinburgh; Charlotte wanted to work with a team to create a den.

We decided to build a reading den in our staff room, out of cardboard. Here's how we did it...

The Space

Over the years, we had accumulated an AOS (Alcove of Stuff) in the staff room. This was a place for parts of broken stuff, carpet tiles, old totes bags, spent printer cartridges and the now dusty props of the Scottish Children’s Book Awards Ceremonies past.

The AOS was perfect for a reading den. It gave us a great excuse to do a power-cleanse of all the useless junk we had accumulated throughout the years. Plus, the space had a real den-like feel.

The Alcove of Stuff pre clerance


The Planning

Next, we planned. Charlotte, our artist, ran a workshop where staff were invited to come along and talk about their childhood dens, what the word ‘den’ meant to them, and what they wanted for our team's reading den.

To ensure the appropriate levels of giddiness and creativity, we stragetically placed flumps and Haribo on every table at the workshop. It worked. Our team was all ideas. Ideas which percolated into a plan for the now-clear alcove.

All that was left for us to plan was a day to build the den. We circulated a loose build timetable where SBTers could join in with the den build for 15-30 minutes out of their working day.

Our reading den plans from Charlotte Duffy


The Build

The day itself was, for many people, our best-ever team builder. Once torn from their emails and phonecalls, our team got the chance to work with their hands to create cardboard walls, roofs, and bunting and paint blackboards onto bookshelves. The unexpected pleasure of working with one’s hands in the middle of a desk-based day at the office was a powerful experience. The den quickly took shape.

Reading den taking shape at Scottish Book Trust


The Result

After seven hours graft, our den was ready to be revealed to the full team. We turned the lights down low and invited everyone to come and enjoy the inside of their new reading sanctuary at work. Words such as ‘proud’, ‘unbelievable’ and 'I can't believe we made this' were punctuated by the noise of backslaps as we stared in wonder at what we had created, together.

Our reading den may not last forever but we hope it will inspire visitors to our offices, and this page, to think of how they could bring reading to their workplace.

Reading den unveiled at Scottish Book Trust

Inside the den



See a time-lapse video of the creation of our den!



Interested in creating a reading workplace? Here are 5 easy ways to bring more reading to the office and Nicola Morgan’s persuasive argument on how a reading workforce will boost the bottom line of business.

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