by guest blogger Karen Nemeth EdM
When I was a young girl I told everyone that one day I would have a house with a weeping willow tree in the yard because I loved to hide in the shelter of the cascading leaves and read books. That is what I loved so much about reading – that I could do it anywhere, anytime. I also loved to read at night in a tent with a flashlight or early in the morning when the birds were just beginning to chirp. I think reading outside is something every child should be able to enjoy. I was reading all the time as I was growing up, even though I sometimes resisted the restrictive reading assignments at school. Let’s bring back the freedom and joy of reading just for the fun of it!
I think we can change the way schools, families, camps and librarians approach early literacy in any language with this idea! I don’t know how we developed the rule that children should go outside for big, physical play, but come inside to read. A change of venue is a perfect way to get children more interested in reading for pleasure and for interest. Fresh air, freedom and books go perfectly together. Here are some ideas you could try:
* In addition to your stationary bookshelves, how about creating a book basket that can go outside with you? You might add some drawing supplies or dress-up items so the children can draw or act out the stories they are reading.
* Keep a stash of books in the car or school bus or camp van – a great way to fill the time when you’re riding or waiting. What if children were greeted every day with “Good morning – what have you been reading about today?”
* Create a collection of books related to your outside environment whether it is your backyard, the neighborhood park, the playground or a balcony. Look for books about what the child sees in his outside world. Then – if you provide them in different languages, the children have lots of cues to understand the new words.
* Join in the reading fun! Whenever we want children to do something new, the best thing is to do it too! I would love to see more teachers, librarians, camp counselors, and parents laying on the grass with the kids, enjoying a book of their own.
For more ideas about early learning and language, visit my website at www.languagecastle.com . And, if you can find a nice, welcoming, shady tree, that would be a perfect place to start reading outside!