Looking for a project to generate new partnerships? How about a StoryWalk®? These deconstructed picture books, assembled page by page, onto signs along walking paths are ideal outreach activities. StoryWalk®, first developed by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, promote literacy, a healthy lifestyle and so much more. Signage provides space for partner recognition on each page, too.
For a permanent StoryWalk® installation, partnering with local government and parks and recreation departments are a good starting point. Prepare to speak about your project at a council meeting to gain support and funding. If the installation will be at a local park, the parks and recreation office will be key in maintenance of the project. These departments may have a website to help promote the project as well.
StoryWalk® is flexible and mobile, too. Stakes or yard signs can be used to create temporary installations of a StoryWalk® project, suitable for festivals, farmer’s markets and other family events. Harford County Public Library held a StoryWalk® to celebrate a local preschool’s success in reaching their reading challenge. They paraded in storybook costumes from the library to the local park and then enjoyed the StoryWalk® of Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth and a picnic lunch. Another of their StoryWalk® projects was held in conjunction with a one-day festival and the local Boy Scouts Pack performed repairs on the stakes, installed the signs along the park greenspace and directed families to the activity.
Additionals partnership opportunities may result by using picture book selection to draw awareness to an organizations’ mission. Celebrate Día this April by installing a StoryWalk® featuring a diverse title from their Building STEAM with Día booklists. Think about the displays your library makes and if a StoryWalk® would add to the collaborative efforts the library has with that organization or cause.
Harford County Public Library is also working with some local museums to plan temporary StoryWalk® projects for the upcoming year. The Susquehanna Museum at the Lock House has an annual Pirate Festival in July and the Havre de Grace Maritime Museum has a beautiful walking path along their wetland area. Both museums offer great spaces for StoryWalks® that support their mission as well as that of the library. Another example comes from West Virginia. The Potomac Valley Audubon Society, which manages three nature preserves, was granted funding to create numerous StoryWalks®. They allow organizations to borrow these StoryWalks® and direct visitors to the public libraries in the area for more information about the featured titles. For a list of their titles visit their website, http://potomacstorywalk.weebly.com/.
StoryWalks® showcase books featuring an irresistible combination of engaging stories, colorful illustrations, and physical activities to promote reading to children. Harford County Public Library follows the example of many other libraries and includes literacy tips for families, focusing on the five practices of singing, talking, reading, writing, and playing every day from Every Child Ready to Read. For more information on The StoryWalk® Project, read Take a Hike! Building Literacy Skills Through StoryWalk® from Boston Public Library, along with information from Lets Go!
Jackie Cassidy is the Havre de Grace Branch children’s librarian for Harford County Public Library, Maryland and is serving on the Liaison to National Organizations Committee for ALSC. Follow the progress of the new Havre de Grace Branch Library Building to be opening this Spring 2016 at www.facebook.com/HdGLibrary.
What a cool concept! Last summer, Kari Ann St. Jean, Children’s & Teen Services Manager at the Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT, did a very creative 9-week StoryWalk for their Summer Reading Program, in their parking lot, in association with a Farmer’s Market that was also set up. Ms. St Jean based it on my book, “Market Maze.” They enlarged, color copied, mounted, and laminated the maze spreads on posts (w/answers on the reverse). The mazes are continuous (flow into each other), so it was a fun organized walk! They had thousands of people come, and some nice local press. A idea like “StoryWalk” is sooooo great: free, neighborhood- and family-oriented, accessible, learning/books, collaboration, exercise, even a game…. Win-win-win!