Outdoor Library Spaces and Reading Gardens in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor

Explore the summer side of your public library while enjoying outdoor library spaces, which offer programs and nooks all about books.

For many kids, summer vacation months are a prime time to enjoy the great outdoors – and maybe flip through a fun new book. And, thanks to outdoor library spaces, many public libraries in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor are giving children a chance to do both of these classic activities at the same time.

From fairy gardens to children’s nooks to “StoryWalk” options at libraries around southeast Michigan, there’s plenty to explore. Check out these outdoor library spaces and summer 2018 programs close to home. Each one would be right at home on any solid summer fun and learning guide – and they’re all a great way to connect kids to the outdoors a bit this summer, too. If we missed one, let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list.

Note: If you’re seeking programs during the colder fall and winter months, be sure to check ahead. Options might vary seasonally.

Fairy Garden in Chelsea

  • Address: Chelsea District Library, 221 S. Main St., Chelsea
  • Phone: 734-475-8732
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday

Enter through a set of French doors into an artsy outdoor space featuring cozy spots to read, a fairy garden and shady pergola at the Chelsea District Library. “Kids love the fairy garden,” says Linda Ballard, assistant director at the library. “The pergola was designed in 2010, but a new, unique thing about it is that all the columns are embedded with tiles created by kids who went on a nature walk and printed what they found on the tiles.” Visit the library for scheduled Babytime events, where parents and their toddlers and babies can socialize, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays.

Children’s Garden in Sterling Heights

  • Address: Sterling Heights Public Library, 40255 Dodge Park Road, Sterling Heights
  • Phone: 586-446-2665
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 1-5 p.m. Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday

With a new-in-2018 colorful mural, literary-themed beds of flowers and gated children’s garden, the Sterling Heights Public Library is the place to be in summer. Patrons can hang out and read in the garden or stop by for scheduled programs. “The whole scene makes it a great place for kids and parents to enjoy the outdoors,” says program coordinator Jason Groth. Check ahead for summer events like Adaptive Storytime special needs events for kids ages 3-10, dance and rhyming parties on select Mondays, “Crazy Craft Monday” offerings and more.

StoryWalk in Ferndale

  • Address: Ferndale Area District Library, 222 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale
  • Phone: 248-546-2504
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, noon-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Hit the Ferndale Area District Library in summer 2018 to enjoy StoryWalk, a statewide library program providing kids and their parents a fun switch from reading indoors. Stroll the library’s courtyard to read pages of This Jazz Man by author Karen Ehrhardt. A version is also available in Braille. “Some of the pages are tucked behind native plant species, like milkweed, so kids might see caterpillars or Monarch butterflies as well,” says Jordan Wright, head of youth services. Watch for special events, too, like sensory play days that let kids ages 6 and under get hands-on with materials like sand, water, ice and more.

More StoryWalk Options in Southeast Michigan

In 2018, a total of 32 libraries are offering programs for StoryWalk in Michigan for a second year. This includes the enhanced Braille option. StoryWalk is a “fun, educational activity,” the state notes in a press release, “designed to inspire parents and caregivers to take young children outdoors to engage in literacy and physical activities.” Besides Ferndale, in southeast Michigan, find the fun at:

Photo courtesy of Chelsea District Library

Amanda Rahn
Amanda Rahn
Amanda Rahn is a freelance journalist, copy editor and proud Detroiter. She is a graduate of Wayne State University’s journalism school and of the Columbia Publishing Course at Oxford University. Amanda is a lover of translated contemporary fiction, wines from Jura and her dog, Lottie.


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