Thrive by IU Health

June 15, 2022

The sounds of literacy

The sounds of literacy

A mystical, green haven will soon blossom behind Hartford City Public Library — but this isn’t an ordinary garden, it’s a musical one.

That’s because a $20,000 Indiana University Health Foundation regional grant will fund the installation of The Botanical Garden Ensemble — a children’s orchestra set that includes nine instruments shaped as trees, lily pads, mushrooms, flowers and butterflies — on the grounds of the library’s outdoor classroom, known as The Nature Play Park.

Set to open in late summer 2022, the sensory sound park will teach east-central Indiana kids about musical scales in an environment that promises physical, auditory and creative stimulation. And according to Library Director Michele Risinger, the instruments will also help kids learn how to read.

Example of Botanical Garden Ensemble from

“Reading and music are both all about neuroscience,” said Risinger. “It’s a pattern, just like music is a pattern.”

Risinger explained that music also helps kids learn to focus and memorize certain sounds — just like they do when they are learning to sound out syllables in words.

The organic shapes of the instruments were also strategically selected by the library to spark children’s imaginations.

“Imaginative play helps develop brain cells,” said Risinger. “And those brain cells help form their interest in storytelling."

The park will be available to all residents but is designed specifically for children ages pre-K to eight years old — which according to Risinger, is the perfect age to get children excited about literacy.

Library Director Michele Risinger

“At that age, kids absorb everything,” she said. “If you help them love reading at a young age, they’ll grow to value it as an adult. And as they grow older, reading will help them develop other skills like empathy, problem-solving and morality, which will make them productive members of society and our Hartford City community.”

In addition to the philanthropy-funded orchestra set, past gifts from IU Health Foundation have helped the library purchase new books and create a community trail.

If you’d like to support community initiatives in east-central Indiana, contact IU Health Foundation Philanthropy Director Brad Edmondson at 765.747.3420.