Reading rooms bring Grandpa’s Garden to life at city’s Ecobase

READING ROOMS. . . .Group pictured at the Reading Rooms (Verbal Arts Centre) Children's Book Week event, in conjunction with the Book Trust, at the Playtrail, Belmont on Tuesday afternoon last. At front are Mark Roberts, Playtrail, Sinead Devine and Rachel Duffy, Verbal Arts Centre. DER2715MC018
READING ROOMS. . . .Group pictured at the Reading Rooms (Verbal Arts Centre) Children's Book Week event, in conjunction with the Book Trust, at the Playtrail, Belmont on Tuesday afternoon last. At front are Mark Roberts, Playtrail, Sinead Devine and Rachel Duffy, Verbal Arts Centre. DER2715MC018
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It was all Wellington boots, garden troughs and pot plants at the Ecobase on Tuesday as the team from the Reading Rooms swung into action.

As part of Children’s Book Week the Verbal Arts reading rooms team were on hand to instil a love of reading in young people.

Sinead Devine of the Reading Rooms at the Verbal Arts Centre. DER2715MC019

Sinead Devine of the Reading Rooms at the Verbal Arts Centre. DER2715MC019

At the Ecobase they read ‘Grandpa’s Garden’ by Stella Fry and Sheila Moxley, a lovely story about how Billy helps his grandpa grow the garden throughout the seasons over the year.

Project manager Sinead Devine dressed in her gardener’s clothes, engaged the children by reading from the book and encouraging them to take part in some drama.

“Our reading rooms project is all about trying to instil a love of literature in children, young people and adults.”

She explained that the programme goes all over Northern Ireland.

“We also work with children in youth, sometimes at risk or in care. And people with long term health conditions.

“The project also engages with those with long term health conditions and older people with dementia.”

Sinead explained that the reading rooms have been set up to preserve the love of literature.

“In the modern day we are losing that love of literature because there are so many other online activities for young people,” she said.

“Maybe you haven’t engaged at school and this could be a different way of engaging.”

She revealed that in the reading rooms project for adults they use short stories and poems.

“This is a jumping off point to start a conversation,” she said.

“And lots of people have been introduced to authors from all over the world. We take books right from the classics to modern day authors and then explore the themes that are in those pieces. It gives people the opportunity to open up and have a conversation.

“That sounds quite simple, but for someone in a stroke group who may have lost their ability to speak or maybe have lost some of their language or even the confidence to initiate a conversation it’s very important.

“We work with people who have suffered brain injuries who have often lost that ability to start a conversation on their own. It offers people the opportunity to engage with each other so there’s the whole social aspect as well.”

On Tuesday at the Playtrail children who took part also got the opportunity to plant a strawberry pot.

“The ecobase is fantastic because we aren’t reliant on the weather,” said Sinead.

“We are outdoors hearing about grandpa’s garden, the seasons, how to plant and the difference between a seed and a bulb. The natural progression was to use drama so the children pretend to be a seed growing up through the soil. Learning it is a waiting game. Then they get their plant. It’s a lovely ending to it and really enhances the learning experience.”

This week the group also worked with Kinship Care, the Greater Shantallow Partnership and the Clooney Festival.