Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Reading Gardens

Reading space in the garden

*  by Jenni Foster

Have you ever wondered how to take your love for reading and combine it with a love for the outdoors and garden? Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a grandparent, or simply have a childlike heart, creating a backyard reading garden may be a perfect weekend project for you!

What is a backyard reading garden, you may ask? It is simply an outdoor space that is designed to include a clever nook used as a reading spot! Reading Gardens can be large or small, simple or elaborate and maybe whatever style you desire. Reading Gardens are a great way to get children involved in reading, while stimulating their interest in the outdoors as well.

To begin, select a location in the outdoors of your backyard that brings you or your child peace and happiness. Oftentimes, people like to choose a place that they already enjoy frequenting or that is special to them. Whether sunny, shady, or a mixture of both, be sure that the lighting is sufficient for reading. Having a place that is a quiet, or tranquil, is very helpful as well.

Next, seating needs to be decided on. There are many options available when it comes to picking a place to sit and read in your backyard reading garden. You may decide that you only want seating for one, or perhaps you will choose seating to accommodate multiple readers. If you plan to read with your child, keep this in mind and create child size as well as adults sized seating options. Ideas include: a bench, a swing, a stationary chair or two, a hammock, a chaise lounge, or even an existing natural seat such as a stump or stone. No matter what you decide, be sure that it will be adequate for both short and long reading sessions.

Just as in a traditional garden, a backyard reading garden will often begin as a bit of a blank slate. Make a plan to add or let your children add the finishing touches that are special to them. Ideas that you may want to consider include: colorful flowers or lovely plants, bird feeders or baths, an art station for nature inspired sketches and paintings, a relaxing water feature or even musical additions, such as a wind chime. The sky is truly the limit... literally!

Once created, the backyard reading garden will become a lovely place for adults and children alike to spend hours inside the pages of their favorite stories. Read alone, with a friend, to your children or as a group. Reflect on your reading and the nature around you by jotting in a journal or with an inspirational art piece. No matter what activities you choose to do incorporate into your backyard reading garden, it is sure to be a delight for all!

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