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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

April outdoors

April 3, 2009

It's April suddenly. And even though it's still wintry, the days are noticeably longer, the sun is getting warmer (that is, when it shines), and buds and shoots are popping out all over.

I'm looking forward to spending time outdoors: playing and walking and gardening and just appreciating the start of a new season.

And when I recently came across a blog from a woman who calls herself the Grass Stain Guru, I started to recall my own long ago childhood when we spent hours unsupervised outside, even in an urban or quasi-suburban neighborhood.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not at all waxing nostalgic, but it does seem that these days adults need to actively encourage children to appreciate the outdoors — and take the time to share it with them.

Of course, books help gain an appreciation and understanding of the natural world. I recently came across a new book by a first time author that provides a memorable imaginary journey into a redwood forest — by way of the subway.

Jason Chin's Redwoods (Flashpoints/Roaring Brook) begins with a boy traveling on a city subway.

The world around him begins to change; while he reads, he leaves the city and enters a majestic forest. Information about the majestic trees is conveyed through text and almost magical yet informative illustrations and continues until his return to the city.

What a neat concept. Not only does this book but books in general can take you on adventures, allow you to go back in time, and inform you before or during an outdoor experience.

So, here's hoping that the rain will stop for the weekend so we can all better enjoy the great outdoors, with book in hand of course.

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"I used to walk to school with my nose buried in a book." — Coolio