Recycling books for use outdoors

7 June 2011 · 12 comments

in Literacy Outdoors

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.

Thank you, Linda from Riverbank Nursery, Aberdeen

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.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin Xx June 7, 2011 at 09:25

I love your blog and really relate so I’ve bestowed an award on you!
Have a lovely day Erin Xx


child central station June 7, 2011 at 11:43

Juliet- I’ve been working on an outdoor collection of books too! I have a draft version in blogger that some day will get published. I’ve found that laminating twice helps to reinforce the books. (It depends on how thick your laminating is )I am also using shower curtain rings to hold them together. I am also putting up outdoor book shelves made from rain gutters (holes drilled in the bottoms to allow for drainage.


Scott June 7, 2011 at 11:48

What a great idea – take the books outside. I like that the book is “protected” so kids can enjoy it whatever they are doing outdoors. This is one of those ideas that I think “Why didn’t I think of that??” Thanks, Juliet.


weingart June 7, 2011 at 13:06

Love it! I was just thinking that some of my books would be ready for recycling…this is so much better!!! Thank you!


Abbie June 8, 2011 at 02:03

This is brilliant and I know my girls will love this idea. We have a great play house that I can absolutely see them sitting and reading in.
Thanks for sharing the idea!


KAREN GREEN June 8, 2011 at 06:05

Brilliant idea Juliet! I am going to give this a go!


Jennifer Perkins - Naughty Secretary Club June 18, 2011 at 02:11

Such a clever idea, ‘m adding it to my pinboard of ideas for kiddlets. I am always trying to think of things to do with my toddlers beat up books and this is perfect.


Juliet Robertson June 18, 2011 at 08:09

Thanks Everyone

It is a wonderful idea and I’m so pleased to have been told about it myself. Before you know it – we’ll have an outdoor library!


Sandy December 26, 2011 at 17:27

The way people learn and enjoy and retain knowledge is with a tactile object. So many people are visual that when they remember a favorite story or a favorite moment, they can actually picture that page, that picture, the feel of the paper, the font— it’s a piece of art. Books are a piece of art and they’re never going away. They’re always going to be amazing gifts and amazing friends. They are so great to share and reuse.


Sue gray April 8, 2017 at 17:38

I use the metal rings (like key rings), they work well.


Juliet Robertson April 8, 2017 at 18:23

That’s a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.


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