book trees transform fallen trees across renfrew county into accessible book exchanges for people of all ages

The Book Tree - Renfrew County

Photos: inhabitat

The Book Forest project was first developed in Berlin, Germany and now our Project Team in Renfrew County is planting the seeds to be the first ‘Book Tree’ structures in Canada. The project aims to address specific community challenges relating to the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) by building on our individual Communities skills, strengths and abundant natural resources. This unique opportunity not only breathes new life and purpose into fallen trees but enhances public outdoor spaces using natural materials to create opportunities to learn and engage others.

This project eliminates perceived and actually barriers to early learning experiences and needed resources by promoting free access to books; encouraging book ownership and sharing and highlighting the importance of inter-generational reading and storytelling.

Each Book Tree will be designed, built and placed locally in accessible community spaces where children and adults can drop off or pick up free books and even track registered books using The idea is to engage young and old into book related activities and community outings by offering opportunities to increase the use of outdoor public spaces while improving access to quality 'seed books' and resources. Providing accessible, healthy and safe environments to grow new and stronger readers helps to raise healthy, strong and resilient children that form the foundation of sustainable Communities.

In September 2012, the 'Book Tree' concept was shared with Community members committed to improving the health and well being of our children and communities. In October, 2012, a collaborative effort by the Renfrew County Best Start Network resulted in a successful Community Action Research and Innovation Funding application through the Ontario Ministry of Children & Youth Services. Children with access to quality books and print materials are more likely to demonstrate improved attitudes towards reading and be more motivated to learn. Early access to books has therefore been linked to later reading and writing performance as well as high school and post-secondary performance, including graduation. Placing the book trees in accessible public spaces not only allows free access but also encourages inter-generational activities, more active communities and social gathering in public spaces; all part of a healthy and vibrant community plan.

The funding supports the collective efforts of a skilled and motivated Project Team of DO'ers. Presently, there is representation from individuals, sectors and organizations located throughout the County including - Forestry, Economic & Business Development, Recreation, Children's Health & Well-Being Programs/Services, Education, Library and local Service Clubs. The Project Team recognizes the importance of highlighting, sharing and using available local resources, skills and knowledge throughout the project process to best support our local people, businesses and service providers. If you are interested in volunteering or helping in some way to support the project---drop us a line---or watch for meeting dates and join us in person!