Have you ever had a children’s book encourage you to hop, skip, jump, crawl, run, or hopscotch your way to the next page?
New StoryWalks in Eau Claire’s Owen Park and Carson Park do just that, thanks to a grant from United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley and a partnership with the City of Eau Claire’s Parks, Recreation, and Forestry department. The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library officially installed the integrative storytelling experience – comprising 17 storytelling signs – in May, with one in the works for the Chippewa Falls Public Library this summer, too.
This engaging reading and learning experience offers two different books to enjoy – If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera in Carson Park and Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer in Owen Park – with 11 total books slated to be rotated in the future, including diverse stories, stunning illustrations, and innovative challenges to encourage you to go to the next page – or, in this case, sign.
“It’s a challenge,” said Kelly Witt, youth services manager of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. “Think about it as you’re running or flying or hopping or crawling – whatever you’re doing and whatever the prompt is driving you to do, it’s really bringing you back to what you just read, and thinking about literacy as a whole.”
“It’s not just for children, for little ones! I’ve seen lots of adults engaging with these stories and having a great time and just bringing that literacy piece back into (their lives, so they think), ‘Oh, these books are awesome!’” –Kelly Witt, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
This initiative aims to give young children new literacy and learning opportunities they may have missed in the last year, as well as to encourage families – both young and old! – to get active, get outside, and enjoy the beauty of local parks.
“We wanted to choose stories that we thought were fun and engaging and maybe break the mold that people have (when thinking) of children’s books,” Witt said. “It’s not just for children, for little ones! I’ve seen lots of adults engaging with these stories and having a great time and just bringing that literacy piece back into (their lives, so they think), ‘Oh, these books are awesome!’”
The stories – which are used with permission from their respective publishers and include designs from Draft Design House in Eau Claire – will later include books about unicorns, word lists, and a variety of fun picture books. Their next StoryWalk® will be a children’s book by prolific Minnesota-based author Kao Kalia Yang. “There’s going to be a lot of variance in what families see out there in the parks,” Witt said, “so we hope people continue to come.”
The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will also bring their Book Bike and Dabble Box programming to visit Carson Park and Owen Park on Monday and Wednesday mornings throughout the summer, helping locals check out books, get their library cards, and use library services outdoors. The BookBike and Dabble Box are also making appearances at the Downtown Farmers Market in Phoenix Park on Saturdays from 9am-noon.
The Chippewa Falls Public Library has a StoryWalk planned for near Duncan Creek Trail, featuring 18 signs weaving through the path behind the play area, which will rotate stories three to four times a year. The first story will be What to Do With a Box by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Chris Sheban. The StoryWalk is slated to be ready for readers by early July.
“Future stories will highlight features of the StoryWalk surroundings, seasons, diverse characters, and just plain funny stories!” said Jessi Peterson, children’s librarian of the Chippewa Falls Public Library. “Each page will have a prompt, a question to discuss, or action suggestion that encourages families to engage with the story, the surroundings, and each other.”
For more information about library programming and the StoryWalk® experience, visit ecpubliclibrary.info and chippewafallslibrary.org. The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk is a registered service mark owned by Ferguson. For more information, visit kellogghubbard.org/storywalk.