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Get Outside Book Club for Preschoolers and their families

Dayton Metro Library
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Problem Statement

This innovation addresses two important issues: 1.) Children are spending too many hours a week engaged in electronic entertainment and not going outside. The Public Health Department of-Dayton & Montgomery County reports that two-thirds of county adult residents are overweight or obese, while more than 500,000 children in the State of Ohio are currently overweight or obese. Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances their imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. 2.) Experiences and learning about the real world is an important aspect of literacy development. When children have limited experience with nature, imaginative outside play, and hands-on activities with real things, their listening and reading comprehension is adversely affected. Community awareness and parent education about this aspect of reading development is needed.


The Dayton area Five Rivers MetroParks and Dayton Metro Library offers a six week program in late summer/early fall for families of preschoolers or classrooms of preschoolers. It’s called The Get Outside Bookclub. Participants read six picture books about being outside to spark child interest and imagination. After reading each book, adults and children go outside and do an activity together related to the content of the book. Titles owned by the library are suggested and activities in the parks are promoted. The Early Literacy blog of the library features books to read with suggested activities. Both the parks and the library promote the bookclub. Special library storytimes follow the outdoor theme and special events are held in the parks. At the end of the bookclub preschoolers receive a small nature related prize.


Dayton Metro Library and Five Rivers MetroParks are positioned as collaborators providing opportunities to build literacy skills, knowledge of the world, stay healthy and develop stewards of the environment. Expenses incurred are shared by both agencies. During the first year 208 families finished the bookclub. Last year 254 families finished. Several events drew crowds of over one hundred people. Families tell us they love the program and look for it to continue.