Readers do the walking with new book program |

Readers do the walking with new book program

The laminated cover from Olivier Dunrea's children's book "Gossie" begins a StoryWalk at the Newpark plaza near the Swaner EcoCenter. Four StoryWalk installations in Summit County will encourage reading and exercise as members of the public walk from post to post to read the selected stories. (Christopher Reeves/Park Record)
(Photo by: Christopher Reeves/Park Record)

Imagine walking and reading a children’s book at the same time without having to hold a book or an iPad, iPod, smartphone or a similar hand-held device.

It is possible with a national program called StoryWalks, said Kirsten Nilsson, youth services librarian at the Summit County Library at Kimball Junction.

"Basically, we’ve taken apart a children’s picture book and mounted the laminated pages on stakes," Nilsson said during an interview with The Park Record. "We’re going to post them a short distance from each other so that friends and families can take a walk and read a children’s story at the same time.

"The posts are maybe 40 paces apart and, by the time they’re done reading, they’ve walked a total distance of between ½ mile to ¾ of a mile," she said.

There will be four StoryWalk installations in Summit County.

"One will be in Kamas and one will be in Coalville," Nilsson said. "We’ll have one at the Summit County Public Health Department at Quinn’s Junction and one near the Swaner EcoCenter on the Newpark plaza at Kimball Junction.

The pages are posted on red cardstock and are installed along paved trails so people can access them easily on foot, bike or stroller.

"They will all be up and running starting this week," she said. "There are even little notebooks where people can write their comments at the end of the walks."

The books featured on the StoryWalks are:

  • "Gossie" by Olivier Dunrea, which will be posted at the Newpark plaza
  • " No dejes que la Paloma conduzca el autobus!" by Mo Willems that will be found near the Summit County Health Department
  • "I Took My Frog to the Library" by Eric A Kimmel, which will be posted in Coalville near the trail by the fairgrounds
  • "Sheep Take a Hike" by Nancy Shaw that will be installed in Kamas along the canal trail

    "We wanted to install these stories in places that were accessible to the public and where we felt were popular gathering places," Nilsson said. "We also loved the idea of combining exercise and reading a story."

    On Thursday, June 13, the Summit County Library will host a free guided StoryWalk at the Swaner EcoCenter installation at 1 p.m. to introduce people to the concept.

    "Anyone interested can come and see what it’s all about," Nilsson said.

    StoryWalks was started in Montpelier, Vt., by a woman named Anne Ferguson, who developed the concept in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library, Nilsson explained.

    The idea to install StoryWalks locally came from Allison Stuart, health educator at the Summit County Health Department.

    "Allison found the StoryWalks program online and approached Daisy Hodson, the Summit County Library’s multicultural services librarian to see if we could all work together on this project," Nilsson said. "It’s been duplicated in many places across the United States. There are some cities where the StoryWalks are permanent fixtures year round."

    Nilsson said she enjoyed choosing the books for the project.

    "I looked at a list that another library had used for its StoryWalk," she said. "There are books that work better than others because you don’t want to have a double-spread page. You want to be able to attach one page per post."

    Some of the selected reads, like the Willems’ book, are very popular.

    "Its English title is ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus’ and we’re excited to have a version that is translated into Spanish," Nilsson said. "We knew we wanted to reach out to our Hispanic community, and we thought this would be a great book to do that."

    The goal is to keep the installations up all summer.

    "If they’re well received, we plan to rotate stories throughout the season," Nilsson explained. "They are pretty secure, unobtrusive and look really cute."

    The Summit County Library will host a guided StoryWalk at the Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Dr. at Kimball Junction ,on Thursday, June 13, at 1 p.m. The walk is free and open to the public. For more information, call (435) 615-3900.

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