Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reading Gardens

Every year when my family travels to Vermont, we eat at one of my favorite places ever: American Flatbread in Waitsfield. There are many things I love about American Flatbread, but this post will just focus on one little thing that has inspired me.

The flatbread place is actually at a farm, and outside the restaurant are campfires. One campfire has a circular wall around it where people can sit while they are waiting for a table. Just beyond that wall is this:

A simple podium, with a weather-proofed copy of Dr. Suess' The Lorax. Now, in Vermont, environmentalism reigns supreme, so the choice of including this book here, on this farm, is completely understandable. But it's also another inspiration for me: A garden that includes reading.

I am currently working on planning a Beautification Day project for Big Girl's school. I'm in a time crunch, and trying to not to spend money on the project, so I have an idea of what I can accomplish in my head. It's not grand, or large, but an improvement. And that said -- a girl can still dream... And my long term dream for the school is to have what is called a "Reading Garden."

A reading garden is really a place where a teacher can take a class outside, with places for students to sit, surrounded by the beauty of nature and the warm sunshine and fresh air, to read or learn a lesson. I've been busy pinning ideas of other schools' reading gardens. Here is one of my favorites:

I love the benches, the pergola, the patio (no mowing and trimming!) and the flowers around it. This one is located outside a school's library, which is perfect location.

Here is a simple idea of a reading garden on another school property:

This one may not have the pretty red benches, but it's got room for a whole class to sit for a lesson or a meeting. Here's one with stone seats:

Source: via Kellie on Pinterest

The current beautification plans at Big Girl's school are to clean up an existing, but neglected garden and expand it it, as well as pick up some litter. I'm thinking the oldest grade at the school will do some kind of "leave behind" project, like stepping stones; the younger ones will help with planting seeds and perennials which will bloom in the fall. I'm basically working with no budget, so I need to get everything going with donations.

Hopefully this will turn into an annual project, and we can landscape other areas and eventually get a reading garden established.

Do you have a reading garden at your child's school, or local library? 


  1. I think gardens and kids just seem to go hand in hand. When I was teaching we had a Kinder-garten and every year we would plant bulbs in the fall and sunflowers in the spring. The students would put a little stake with their name on it so when they came back in the fall they could find "their" flower.
    I LOVE the idea of a reading garden, what a great idea. Can't wait to hear how this project turns out :0)

  2. What a fantastic idea. I really love the library that is attached to a garden. New vistas are so effective in helping us relax and let our thoughts flow.

    As a former reporter, my favorite memory is one stressful day when I decided to ditch the office and took my notes, a notepad and a few pens outside to write. It worked, and I didn't mind typing the story. These days it would be nice to take a laptop or iPad outside to combine reading and writing with a natural environment.

    Thanks so much for sharing this idea--I hope to see more schools implement environments such as these.

    Elizabeth Lowe