By ARDEN BASTIA The Warwick Public Library puts a new spin on reading outside with their StoryWalk installation, which opened last Friday. The new installation invites readers, young and old, to follow along with And Here's To You by David Elliot,
The Warwick Public Library puts a new spin on reading outside with their StoryWalk installation, which opened last Friday.
The new installation invites readers, young and old, to follow along with And Here’s To You by David Elliot, illustrated by Randy Cecil.
The StoryWalk is a permanent fixture in the city that encourages children and families to love reading and the outdoors, while cultivating a strong sense of community. Along the City Park walking path, there are about 30 signs that look like pages from the picture book, The installation is geared towards students in pre-school to grade 3, but fifth graders from Park Elementary School enjoyed StoryWalk on its opening day last Thursday. Last Friday, second graders from Park Elementary took their first field trip since the pandemic to explore the park and check out the StoryWalk.
“When you read the story as you walk through the park, it gives you activities to do,” said Jana Stevenson, the library’s director.
“Kids learn better when they’re moving, so if you read the word ‘hop’ and then you hop, you associate that movement with the word and you’ll remember that word the next time you see it.”
Stevenson originally proposed the idea to the city’s parks and recreation department and worked with Bev Wiley, parks and recreation director, to secure a $10,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation.
Funds from the grant were used to purchase aluminum signs, story boards, and publishing rights. Because of COVID and material shortages, the project has taken well over a year to complete, explained Stevenson, who also added that Friends of the Library provided funds and “incredible support” to put the finishing touches on the installation.
“I just love the idea that it mixes being in a beautiful place with either friends or family, and there’s a story to see as you’re walking the path,” said Ellen O’Brien, the library’s youth services coordinator. She says she expects some people might be surprised to see the installation the next time they visit City Park, but hopes readers of all ages enjoy the bright illustrations and positive message of the story.
For Stevenson, the StoryWalk is all about community, and bringing people together after a long year apart.
“That’s our main focus in addition to literacy,” she said. “It’s all different ways of bringing the community together. It’s not just for Warwick, it’s for everyone.”
A second StoryWalk is in the works, and will be installed in the Warwick Public Library’s garden later this summer.
Stevenson hopes to see more StoryWalks pop up all over the city, perhaps down at Oakland Beach. “This is just the beginning,” she said.