Reading In Unusual Places Challenge Ideas

Where is the most unusual place you can read a book? While I personally prefer a cozy seat when I’m reading, a common challenge set by schools at the moment is to take a photo of your child reading a book in an unusual place. As well as Extreme Reading Challenges, Reading In Unusual Places competitions are often set for World Book Day (which is 7th March in 2024).  If you are looking for inspiration for somewhere weird, strange or unusual to read then this post has: general ideas, themed ideas for picture books, themed ideas for chapter books and tips to get the best photos.  Have fun with your children to come up with ideas that work for your children and their favourite books. I would love to hear what you came up with. 

Ideas for Reading In Unusual Places Challenge

A little girl reading the Gruffalo's Child next to a Gruffalo's child carving
Reading in unusual places challenge idea

Tips For Getting Great Reading Challenge Photos

  • Don’t worry about trying to get something totally unique or expensive, often the best photos are where children and their families come up with something creative together.
  • Make sure your chosen location is safe and can support your child while they pose for the photo. Schools shouldn’t promote images that show children looking like they are doing anything dangerous. 
  • Get bonus points by linking the book you are reading with the location and even adding in a costume and props.
  • If you are creating a themed photo it’s worth choosing a popular book that everyone will know so they appreciate the theming, or one that the title of the book sums up the theme. 
  • For maximum impact for themed ideas children should hold the book up open and in front of them so that the title is visible on the front as well as the child and the location. This might not be a natural reading pose, but the photograph will have more impact.
  • The better the lighting the easier it is to get everything in focus and to see the details.  Think about the position of the sun or light source and ideally have it in front of the child so their face is lit up, rather than behind as this can create a silhouette or put them in shadow.
  • If your phone is automatically making the background blurry so you can’t see the location properly, move further away. You can always crop the photograph afterwards to emphasise the key part of the picture.
  • If you have the opportunity to go anywhere unusual or your children have any hobbies then have a think of any books that could link to it eg if they horse ride then grab a copy of Black Beauty, if you are going to visit a castle do you have any books about Knights? 

General Ideas For Unusual Places To Read

  • The bath
  • Childrens Trampolines (can you manage a photo in mid air?)
  • Hanging upside down on a climbing frame or a park bench
  • The beach
  • In a treehouse or sitting in a tree
  • In a blanket fort
  • Under a table
  • While doing a handstand 
  • On a tractor

Themed Ideas 

I have included links to physical copies of the books you can buy if you are interested. These are affiliate links to Amazon which means if you make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, thank you if you choose to do this. As these are all popular books it is also worth having a look in charity shops for a copy or borrowing one from your nearest library.

Younger Children - Unusual Places To Read Picture Books

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

With lots of Gruffalo trails around the country they make an easy place to head to with a copy of the popular children's book. It’s also the 25th anniversary of The Gruffalo book in 2024 so there are lots of themed events happening where you might even get to meet the Gruffalo (like this event in Harlow) and new Gruffalo Party trails at more than 20 forests around the country.
Get the book here.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

An obvious idea for this is to take the book with you on a trip to the zoo and get a photo of it being read outside an animal enclosure. This is great if you are heading to the zoo anyway, but for a cheaper option you can do at home how about sitting in a cardboard box with a headband, face paint or costume as one of the animals in the book eg the puppy or frog?
Get the book here.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

If you have a cuddly tiger teddy and the Judith Kerr book then grab them and head to your nearest cafe. I know the tiger doesn’t actually go to the cafe, but it helps set the scene. Including a plate of sausages and chips or ice cream while "Sophie" reads is a bonus.
Get the book here.

Five Minutes' Peace by Jill Murphy

I have much sympathy with Mrs Large in this book as she goes around the house looking for somewhere to have a little break, but it also makes for a great reading challenge photo. Head to the bath tub and add props of a shower cap, plastic tea cup and saucer and the book (stay fully dressed and don't bother with the bubbles). 
Get the book here.

We’re Going On A Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

There are lots of great locations in this book which can be used for an unusual reading locations. You could try: a muddy field (wear wellies), a meadow with long grass or maybe sit in the entrance of a homemade blanket fort that looks a bit like a cave, bonus points for having a bear in the background.
Get the book here.

Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell 

In this great book the lazy farmer stays in bed while the duck does all the work on the farm. The question "how goes the work?" is regularly replied to with "quack!" in our house. A farm is an obvious location to pose with this book (bonus points if you have anything resembling a duck costume), but another idea would be to head to a duck pond with some peas and get a picture reading the book with some ducks in the background.
Get the book here.

Older Children - Unusual Places To Read Chapter Books

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis

A photo idea most people can do at home is to grab a copy of the Narnia book and pose in a wardrobe with the door open. Ideally surrounded by coats on hangers, cuddly lions and white witch costume are optional extras. 
Get the book here.

Tom’s Midnight Garden - Philipa Pearce

Sit in your garden reading the book as it is getting dark with a torch. Dusk is the best time to try this so you can still make out the garden in the background, although this may require a little editing of the filter afterwards get the full effect.
Get the book here.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Head to the beach with this book for a fun photo. Get bonus points for the props of a toy spade, parrot, eye patch and pirate flag. If you don’t live near a beach lots of playgrounds have sand pits which would work just as well. Aim to get there early for the best chance of it being quiet and not getting other children in the photo. 
Get the book here.

The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame

This is another great book with a number of locations you could choose. Sitting in a rowing boat would look brilliant, but a little bit of a challenge, sitting on a picnic blanket by a river bank is an easier option.
Get the book here.

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit

While it’s obviously not safe to go near the tracks of a real railway a bridge going over a railway line is one option or for a different take on it there are lots of playgrounds which have climbing frames shaped like trains. Waving a red flag (even if homemade) while reading is a great extra. 
Get the book here.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling

How about a photo reading under the stairs for Harry Potter fans? Your stairs at home stairs might not be suitable for this, but there is a good chance your local playground will have some steps you can sit under that will work. Props like a white owl, Hogworts school costume or a lightening bolt drawn on the forehead can add to this.
Get the book here.

Me in Charlie Cooks chair reading my favourite book
I prefer a cozy seat for my favourite book rather than an unusual place

I hope you have fun coming up with ideas and good luck.

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