After a very long hiatus, this website and blog is “live” again. Welcome!
Today I watched an interview at the Early Years Summit 2018: Outdoor Learning and Play with Juliet Robertson, an educational consultant in Scotland specializing in this very topic. Browsing her website, I discovered several posts devoted to reading books outside. As someone who has loved reading all my life (as a kid I’d check out a stack of books from the library and read through them all by the time they were due in two weeks — often rereading my favorites), and, as a teacher who experiences firsthand the learning and growth that happens when we are outside with anything we do, I am passionate about sharing books and story with kids while in nature.
If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caring adult who enjoys sharing magical time with children, maybe these ideas will inspire you to read aloud to kids outside.
Juliet’s blog post:
And here is my response to that post: “One of my favorite memories of my elementary school years was when our teacher took us to the nearby park and read to us books like Where the Red Fern Grows.”
That walk out of the school yard and all of us gathered in the shade of a painted concrete castle and my teacher weeping as she read aloud the very sad part of the book truly takes me to a place and time where I loved my teacher (I didn’t always), loved my classmates (ditto), and loved the lazy timeless listening to an amazing story.
I also wrote:
“As a homeschooling mom, I regularly packed a basket with a book, snacks, things we were exploring with our curriculum, and my daughters and I went outside to learn, work, and play. We always read aloud outdoors: anything from Harry Potter to favorite picture books to the Little House novels and more.” Read a post here from a blog I kept when I was a homeschooling mom in the suburbs.
“As an early learning teacher at a school on a farm I bring books outside and read books to the kids that tie in with what we’re doing on the farm and what’s happening in nature. What I read aloud usually ends up in our play and discovery time. Ex. I read the Herb Fairies book about the Chickweed Fairy, and then we ended up foraging for Chickweed and other wild and planted edibles, and making remedies. So much fun!”
The point I want to make is this: sharing time in nature brings about meaningful and deep connection, a love for each other and by extension, about what we enjoy together that is part of that connection. (I’ll write more about this in future blog posts). When we share what we love with those who we love or at least deeply appreciate, we all blossom. When we engage in learning or exploration that excites and share that, again: we all are nourished. When nature is part of our world, when we are engaged in and with nature, all our senses our activated and pathways form or deepen. We are human beings designed to be nourished, challenged, and to grow within the world of nature, and nature has plenty to say and enliven in us when we bring what we love (back) into it. Our imaginations, creativity, and intellect find fuel and “fire” in ways that build, strengthen, and expand us.
I hope these snippets inspire you to carry your reading and other connective time outdoors!