Just before half term we hosted our first Reading in the Park event of the season. What a pleasure to be able to enjoy the warmer weather, get outside and get kids reading! Our Reading in the Park events are all about getting families reading together and celebrating reading for pleasure as a social activity.
How does it work?
The idea is very simple - and very informal. We host the events after school in our local park. Everyone is welcome. We invite local families (via Facebook and WhatsApp) to bring a favourite book and a blanket. We bring the ice lollies! Some of our subscribers come along too and we love to see what everyone is reading and swap book recommendations.
Why we do it
For us, reading is a social activity. We both get enormous pleasure from being in a book club ourselves and we want our kids, and their friends, to experience a piece of that as well. Parrot Street is a virtual kids book club – we don’t hold actual book club meetings to discuss the books we send our subscribers. But Reading in the Park has become a way that we can celebrate the social side of reading with our local community. And of course reading is also a family activity. We all know how busy family life can get and how difficult it can be to carve out time to sit down and read together. Some of the people who come along to our Reading in the Park events regularly tell us that they enjoy it for exactly that reason – it’s a reminder and an opportunity to take a bit of time out of the regular family routine to sit and read together.
Why we should talk about books
We love a bit of book chat! By sharing and talking about the books we’ve read, we are able to explore what they mean to us and how they relate to our own lives, and that applies as much to our children as it does to us and our book club friends. Indeed, books allow our children to explore, question and work things out for themselves. Reading together and talking about what we’ve read can afford both parents and children the perfect opportunity to discuss difficult issues in a ‘safe’ setting. We hope that our Reading in the Park sessions help encourage that.
Join us! Or why not try it yourselves?
If you’re local to New Malden, keep an eye on our Facebook page for details of our next Reading in the Park event. If you’re a bit further away, why not start your own Reading in the Park group? Here are our top tips for making it a success:
Pick a location that is easy to get to, ideally on the school run. A local park is perfect. Post about it on Facebook and in school WhatsApp groups.
Keep it informal. There’s no need to organise any specific activities.
Bring a few books for people to borrow, ideally a selection of picture books and short chapter books. We find it’s a great way to share our favourite books, swap book recommendations and discover something new.
Relax! With kids involved, you know that not everyone will sit and read for the whole session, but that’s ok! It’s supposed to be fun and sociable.
If you’re interested in setting up a more formal kids book club, we’ve got some great tips for that as well – see our earlier blog post, How to set up a book club for your kids.
Also check out our book subscription, which is perfect for book clubs and provides all the resources you’ll need, including discussion questions, activities and, of course, great books!