Tip #7 addressed the importance of creating special spaces for kids to read and giving kids access to books by putting books wherever kids might read. Since during the summer kids are spending so much time outside, it makes sense to create a reading space outside as well as inside. Convert a treehouse or outside playhouse into an outdoor reading spot, with a basket of books and pillows. Pop-up tents work just as well! Or, you can turn your front porch into a “reading porch” by adding a basket of books and perhaps a chalkboard sign giving the area a name. Book bin centerpieces are a simple way to take reading outdoors. If your kids’ friends come by often, it can also be fun to put a bookshelf or book basket in the yard and designate it as a “take one/leave one library”, allowing kids to swap and recycle books with each other. For even more fun, find a flashlight and try doing the kids’ bedtime reading in your new outside reading space.
In our family… Last year we put old outdoor furniture cushions in our swingset playhouse, and we used a plastic crate with lid for our mini outdoor library. We added a dry erase board with markers and magnets, and the kids loved this space (they even used it as a swimming break, which was so cool to see!). This summer, we are still (aaahhh!) undergoing a major yard revision so we have no usable outdoor space, which is a huge bummer on many levels including that we can’t create a cool outdoor reading space. We decided instead to call our small outdoor atrium a “reading room”. The atrium already has some comfy seating, and we are currently discussing other elements we can add to help define it as such. A few ideas include: a sign on the wall about reading, an outdoor book basket for magazines, a cabinet mounted on the wall with bookshelves inside, making bookshelf planters, and an outdoor chalkboard. Hopefully we’ll figure out our reading room soon, and I’ll post pictures when it’s done!
Creating an outdoor reading space is a fantastic way to combine summer fun with reading. Kids are more likely to take a break from their active outside play to rest and read if an appealing reading space is provided. Keep in mind that summer is the best opportunity for kids to be masters of their own reading lives, so include them in the discussion and brainstorm together your ideas for creating the space.
Please send photos of fun outdoor reading spaces if you create one this summer! firstname.lastname@example.org.