Check it out: 'Let's Go Outside' during August

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Review

"Let's Go Outside!: Outdoor Activities and Projects to Get You and Your Kids Closer to Nature"

By Jennifer Ward;Trumpeter, 175 pages

Can it really be August already? This summer, as many before it, is speeding by. I can remember when the arrival of August was bittersweet to me because it meant school was just around the corner. Now, the eighth month of the year reminds me that shorter days, cooler temperatures and holiday madness are hovering in the wings. What's worse? Anticipating the first day of school, or the headlong rush into Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas? Whether you're a child or an adult, the month of August heralds big changes ahead, and this can be daunting. I find that the best way to avoid succumbing to the summer doldrums is to be active, taking advantage of the warm, sunny days, and pushing aside thoughts of new teachers, homework, holiday shopping and cooking the perfect turkey.

"Let's Go Outside!" by Jennifer Ward is a wonderful starting point for families looking to fill some of those empty spaces before school begins. If you have trouble enticing your kids away from those ubiquitous electronic devices, tell them that "kick the can" and "tubbles of bubbles" are the latest in unplugged fun. Playing tag, setting up a scavenger hunt or making a rain catcher can provide hours of physical as well as mental stimulation for all age levels. Reminding your family that there's a world beyond Pokemon, Minecraft or whatever other electronic game is the latest, just might start up a cascade of giggles and merriment!

A couple of columns ago I mentioned how much I enjoy reading outside on a beautiful day. Reading is certainly a mental activity, but it doesn't provide much in the way of physical stimulation (unless you're tackling a hefty hardcover). Jennifer Ward's guide to outdoor fun offers oodles of suggestions for movement and exercise, all designed to create happy times between parents and offspring. Think about trying one of these fun ideas.

The Northwest has plenty of trees, so constructing and swinging on a tree swing should suit just about any backyard. It isn't always possible to go for a moonlight walk in our cloudy region, but August is one of the best months for star-filled perambulations. Or, perhaps you and your kiddos would like to play in the dirt (who doesn't love mud pies?); seek out antenna-bearing, multi-legged garden inhabitants (aka bugs); use the sun to create "photographic" shadow prints; or, count the feathered friends visiting your yard. The possibilities are endless!

So, don't let August pass you by without enjoying some fine Northwest sunshine. Encourage your family to unplug, step outside and share some quality playtime together. September will arrive all too soon, so carpe diem!

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org