by Katrina Morse for Family Reading Partnership
Take your family on a walk—a Story Walk! Stroll down a wooded path or skip through a mown field and read pages of a children’s book as you go. Dryden, Enfield, Danby, Groton, and soon Newfield have specially marked trails with the words and pictures from children’s books posted at intervals along your way. These five Story Walks in Tompkins County are a program of Family Reading Partnership.
Start with the book cover at the trailhead then look for the book’s first page next on the path. Read aloud as you go and enjoy the story, illustrations, and being outside with your children. What happens next in the story? Look for the next page on the trail to find out!
Walking while reading can be the perfect way to share a book with an active child and can engage a range of ages from baby to early elementary school ages.
The books for these Story Walks are chosen by librarians and community members in each area and feature local authors and illustrators when possible. Books are usually nature-themed or have content related to the community itself and are replaced with new books seasonally.
When each Story Walk is launched, the featured book is given as a gift to families who attended the event that day, with funding for books provided by United Way of Tompkins County Youth and Philanthropy, Rotary Club of Ithaca, and in Dryden in memory of Grandma Alice Garmezy by her loving family. After the launch, the Story Walk trail is opened for all to enjoy year-round for new adventures each visit.
In Dryden you can read “Over and Under the Pond” by Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. The Story Walk is located on the portion of the Jim Schug Trail between Agway (Main St) and South St. In this story children will discover how plants and animals live together on the land surrounding a pond and in the pond’s water.
The Enfield Story Walk is located on the elementary school grounds, starting in the orchard, and features “Mouse’s First Fall” by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Buket Erdogan. Learn about autumn with the book’s characters Mouse and Minka as they explore leaf shapes and fall colors.
In Danby read “Over in the Meadow” by John Langstaff , illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky on their Story Walk located at Dotson Park, in the area right in front by the natural playground. Based on the traditional counting song, each page of this book has new details for young children to see and animal noises to try out.
Groton is currently featuring “Izzy’s Groton Adventure” by local authors Janet Watkins and Mona Forney, and is located on the Groton Memorial Trail section that leaves from the Groton Memorial Park, behind the pool. Because this is a new Story Walk, free copies of the book are still available for families to pick up at Brittany Station gift shop, while supplies last. Store hours and location are posted at the Story Walk.
Published in 2013, this is the first of a series of books told from the perspective of a fictional, adventurous orange cat, Izzy P. Kitty, who lives in the Groton Public Library. Readers may recognize Groton landmarks and some town residents in the book. This Story Walk is recommended for slightly older children because of the steeper trail and longer story.
Newfield will be getting their Story Walk installed later in August or September. Location and book still to be determined.
Want to get involved? Groton and Enfield Story Walks are still in need of sponsors. Volunteer liaisons are also needed for each Story Walk to walk a trail every week or two and let Family Reading Partnership know if anything needs attention. Contact Family Reading Partnership at 607-277-8602 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Follow Family Reading Partnership on Facebook and Instagram for read-aloud tips, inspiration, and activities.