Take A Walk. Read A Book.
In spring 2020, when playgrounds and schools were closed, my son and I took many walks as spring warmed into summer. We walked around the block, through the local cemetery, and past the buildings we could not enter. But at the Dwight Foster Public Library in Fort Atkinson, we walked with a mission.
The library staff had installed a StoryWalk® around their building made of wooden signs, with laminated pages of a children’s book attached to the signs, so families could continue to read together even though the library doors were closed. My son and I often meandered along the sidewalk, stopping at one sign after the other as I read the page out loud before moving on to the next one. There was something magical and memorable about reading a library book outside while we walked hand in hand, listening to the birds sing along.
What's A StoryWalk®?
Two years later, the library doors are wide open, and my son is old enough to read simple words on his own. But sharing a story outdoors on a StoryWalk® has become more popular than ever.
“The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library” with a mission to promote early literacy, physical activity, and family time together in nature, according to the Kellogg-Hubbard Library’s website.
StoryWalks® can be found in all 50 states and all over the world including Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Pakistan, and South Korea. And there are some right here in southeast Wisconsin!
StoryWalks® At Local Libraries
The Hartland Public Library’s paved StoryWalk® winds along the Ice Age Trail at the side of the library building, looking out over the Bark River. You can’t ask for a lovelier view during the summer months.
Instead of wooden signs around the library, the Dwight Foster Public Library now has a permanent StoryWalk® installed at Ralph Park in Fort Atkinson, along a paved walking path. “What a great treat for park goers,” said one library user. “Love our library!”
The New Berlin Public Library is unveiling a Community Storybook Trail at ProHealth Care Park in May for the entire community to enjoy.
L.D. Fargo Public Library unveiled their StoryWalk® in October 2021 in Wallace Park. The story winds in and out along a forest path and ends at the playground, which is a great way to reward the kids for a hike in the woods. One patron commented, “The story walk is awesome! Thank you for this asset in the community.”
The Watertown community also loves the Watertown Public Library’s Storybook Trail out at Brandt Quirk Park. “I took a stroll with our grandsons yesterday!” one patron shared. “We loved the story. Can’t wait to read the next one.” Last fall, library staff even lit the trail with paper lanterns for an enchanted after-dark experience for the whole family!
If you live in Jefferson, you’ve got a StoryWalk® coming your way soon too. The Jefferson Public Library, with the generosity of the community and local businesses, raised money to put in a StoryWalk® along the paved walking path at the Meadow Springs Conversancy this summer.
With the weather warming up, now is the perfect time to grab your walking shoes and head outside for a magical literary walk of your own. Happy reading!
Written by Jill Fuller, Marketing & Communications Librarian for Bridges Library System. A version of this article appeared in several local newspapers in April 2022. We are sharing those pieces here on our website a few weeks after each piece has been printed.