During outdoor literacy course I ran last month, one of the participants came along with an example of an outdoor book. She had taken an old book, cut it up, laminated the pages and used tags to hold the pages together.
I thought this was a very clever way to extend the life of a worn-out book. I have many of these, so I took my favourite one, which I’ve had since I was a child and gave it the “outdoor treatment.”
Cutting up the book was straightforward. Remembering to put the pages the correct way into the laminating sheets was more of a challenge. I wanted to leave a large area of laminated plastic around the border to prevent water seeping in.
If you look on the left hand side, I left enough space to reinforce the laminated plastic with a bit of silver duct tape. This means that the holes won’t rip. After all, if I was a child, I’d enjoy untying the book and putting it back together again.
Now, a thought did occur to me… why take books outside? Isn’t there a risk of “overdoing” the literacy emphasis? After all children just want to play.
Upon reflection, a reading corner indoors is very much like a mini library. How many of us spend most of our time, reading at a library? Probably not much. We borrow a book and then read in places we find most comfortable. This might be in bed. On the sofa. At the airport. On a beach. In the park. At a cafe. In fact, we rarely read at a table or in a library. So why do we do this in school other than for the purposes of instruction and the process of teaching the reading? Probably for convenience and out of habit.
So, to put a few laminated books around the outdoor area, may be a very good thing. I often use books when children are wanting to make something so that they can use it as a point of reference. For example, if a child wants to make a fire engine from a box, looking a the pictures in a book can help the child decide what features are needed. I also like books lying around, waiting to be found. It’s all part of the joy of discovery. Some children will look at a book outside yet rarely venture into the library corner indoors.