Literacy in Schools: The Reading Tree

Have you ever heard of a Reading Tree?

I myself often enjoy reading in the park under certain trees, but this concept is something a bit different. It is related to literacy in class and it encourages one of the healthiest intellectual activities for children with the involvement of the whole community of children, including their parents! It helps children develop their reading skills thus enhancing their vocabulary and understanding of the world, it allows a whole class to work for a common goal and it also creates some understanding around biology concepts around the tree as a living habitat.

So here is how such a project can happen:

  1. Teachers build a real size tree (trunk and branches) and place it somewhere in the classroom. 
  2. Teachers then build different types of crafts on categories: for ex.: leafs for level 1, flowers for level 2, apples or other fruits for level 3, caterpillars for level 4, chrysalis for level 5 and butterflies for level 6. For these two steps the help of an artist should be more than welcome. Perhaps you have one in your parents community?
  3. Teachers then introduce the project to the children and parents: The Reading Tree is set at the beginning of the school year and can be cleared at the end. This project is suitable for all years, provided that the levels are adapted to the children's age. Children are told that this project aims to encourage them to read more and find out more things about the world or themselves. The advantages of reading should be explained, but teachers should also accept the fact that there could be children who refuse to participate in the project. Again, the project is not mandatory! Each child is given a reading card or booklet. One can be created and adapted by the teachers or just downloaded from any site with teacher resources. Here is an example:  
Each child should write down the titles of the book/s they read, the pages or hours spent reading and any other comments. The parents should then put a signature there as well, not so much to confirm what the child wrote but to show they are also aware of the child's efforts and that they also support and encourage the child at home. Teacher and parents should, for example provide a NON MANDATORY reading list, for different levels of reading, which the children could use for choosing their books. They could be group by themes or by the different concepts they will learn at school for each subject throughout the year. Children should be free to choose whichever books are appropriate for their age, following their interests and curiosities. This projects also offers children a good opportunity to learn about the School Library or the County Library.

       4. Different levels are then established. For example a child reaches level 1 after completing one hour of reading or 20 pages. For level 2, two or three hours or the equivalent in pages, and so on. Once the child has completed a certain level, s/he brings the completed reading card to the teacher. The teacher then gives him/her the correspondent craft for the level s/he completed, which the child will then hang in the Reading Tree, with a little paper note attached with his/her name on it and date.

Special "seasonal" crafts can be created for Easter, Christmas, Summer or Autumn. Should someone reach level 6 before the year is finished, then other levels can be created, with crafts such as cones, bird nests, birds or bees. The theme of the tree should be respected, as it is a wonderful opportunity for children to refresh biology concepts such as species of trees and correspondent leafs, life cycles, tree mini beasts, birds or the tree as a habitat.

Something else that can be done to support reading through this project is to create a Reading Cosy Corner under the tree, by adding a couch or bench with pillows. On the nearest walls you could put some shelves and children could bring at school some of their favorite books to share with colleagues. These books could be browsed during breaks or during language classes. The teacher/s could build activities around it to keep it active and the children engaged.

   5. At the end of the school year, the Reading Tree should be filled with life, and lots of colored, beautiful proofs of the children's work to build themselves as individuals and community. Since all the crafts will be named and dated, they can be taken home and kept in the family archive :).

I have discovered this project working with two wonderful children who participate in it at school at the International German School of Brussels. I hope it will inspire parents and teachers to build many more stimulating learning environments all around the world! Enjoy your reading everyone!

Source of pictures:


Reading charts:



  1. Really inspiring. Reminds me of my good teacher back in 5th grade who inspired us to read and do many unstructured activities for self driven learning. Keep it up Alex!

  2. Thank you Sam, for reading and sharing, and for your encouragements!

  3. Engleza mea e cel mult aproximativa, asa incat cer ingaduinta sa multumesc in romaneste pentru ideile din postarea aceasta. Caut de ceva vreme ceva care sa ma ajute sa tin socoteala cartilor citite de fetita mea si care (mai ales asta!) s-o motiveze sa citeasca mai mult! Copacul cititului mi se pare grozav!

  4. Ma bucur tare ca va ajuta! Am cercetat curioasa si am descoperit blogul vostru cu miros de copii frumosi, dragoste si carti! Avem o pasiune comuna pentru carti, ma bucur ca mi-ati lasat comentariu aici!


Thank you for reading this post! Please make sure your comment enriches everyone's learning!