Take a hike

A friend of mine (and fellow school librarian) found a story in the woods. No, not the inspiration for a story, an actual story. One day, when walking her dog,  she came upon the pages of a book, mounted on stakes planted along a trail. She later discovered that she had stumbled upon a StoryWalk™, a project that originated in Vermont and has since been trademarked. The concept was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

So, just what is a StoryWalk™? According to the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition it is “an exciting initiative that combines a children’s story with a popular walking route…(one) selects a children’s book, separates the pages, laminates them, and attaches them to stakes. (One) then drives the stakes into the ground at regular intervals along paths so readers can follow the story as they walk the route. (It was conceived) as a way to inspire parents, teachers, and caregivers to take young children on a short stroll that will be fun for all. StoryWalk™ helps build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity for both adults and children.”

Inspired by this idea of combining fitness and literacy my colleague submitted and won a grant to create StoryWalks™ for her school and our community. She later shared her passion about this project at a district librarian’s meeting. Serendipitously and coincidentally, I was familiar with the concept, having learned about it from a Vermont friend. Wanting to help her expand and grow the project, I eagerly jumped on board. We recruited our town’s children’s librarian and The Northborough StoryWalk™  was born. Since then we have planted our story seeds five times on our town’s trails for all to enjoy.

We began in the fall of 2011 with The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, the perfect innocently “scary” story for a walk in the woods. Our next story was The Biggest Snowman Ever, a success despite the relatively snowless winter of last year. Our spring offering was So Few of Me, our paean to living a life less scheduled. In conjunction with our town’s AppleFest last September, we featured Ten Apples Up on Top. And, just this week, we launched our newest creation, this time a Poetry walk, featuring both the works of Emily Dickinson (to appeal to our active senior population) and classic, timeless nursery rhymes to appeal to children of all ages.

As a hiker and nature lover, these walks are dear to my heart. Bringing together books and bluets, words and warblers, pages and polliwogs…what could be better?


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