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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Fairlawn-Bath Library’s StoryWalk events combine reading, exercise

3/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

Keith and Anne Dougherty read a page of “Over in the Meadow” with their daughter Hannah.
Steve and Charlene Schultz walk and read along the StoryWalk path in Bath Nature Preserve with daughters Olivia (in arms) and Aubrey.
Families walked and read “Over in the Meadow,” by Ezra Jack Keats, during the Fall Into Nature festival at the Bath Nature Preserve this past October.
Photos: Jessica Ellis
FAIRLAWN — When Fairlawn-Bath Branch Library Manager Jane Scott came across a web article about StoryWalk, an activity where families read a whole book while walking, she suspected the community would enjoy trying it, too, she said.

The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson, of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.

Scott said she contacted Ferguson about doing the program at her library and was given the OK. She then took the idea to Bath Township Trustee Elaina Goodrich, and they got started planning the area’s first StoryWalk, which took place during Bath’s Community Day at the Bath Community Activity Center this past August.

“What really inspired me to do this was our [Akron-Summit County Public Library] summer reading project,” called Mind, Body & Sole, said Scott. Like StoryWalk, that program combined reading and exercise.

For Mind, Body & Sole, participants read 26 books, e-books or articles and ran or walked 26 miles or 52,000 pedometer steps between June 11 and Sept. 10.

“When I read about StoryWalk, I thought, ‘What better works with Mind, Body & Sole?’” she said.

So far, two successful StoryWalks have taken place in the area, and more are being planned, according to Scott.

After the Community Day in Bath, the second event took place during the Fall Into Nature festival at the Bath Nature Preserve this past October.

A StoryWalk can take place in a field or forest, on a trail or in the middle of nowhere, she said.

To create a StoryWalk, pages of a story are laminated and affixed to posts set 40 to 50 steps apart, she said. Generally, the books are around 30 pages long, and the full length of the trek is about a quarter of a mile.

It depends on a family’s pace, but a StoryWalk probably takes about 20 minutes to complete, she said.

The activity is ideal for families with preschoolers up to first-graders, but older children will likely enjoy a StoryWalk, too, said Scott.

“Who doesn’t want a story read to them?” she said.

“Sheep on a Hike,” by Nancy Shaw, was featured at the August event, and in October, families read “Over in the Meadow,” by Ezra Jack Keats.

An additional event was scheduled for this past October at Copley’s Halloween in the Park but had to be canceled due to the weather, according to Scott.

Scott said she is planning more StoryWalks for this year and would like for one to occur at a park in Fairlawn.

People can also look for more information soon about a StoryWalk to take place on the front yard of the Fairlawn-Bath Branch Library in April or May, she added.

Also, she plans to repeat StoryWalks at the two annual community events in Bath, as well as at Halloween in the Park in Copley in October, as long as the weather cooperates, she noted.

It has not been expensive for the library to hold the events, added Scott. Costs are for two copies of the books and lamination of the pages. The posts on which the pages are affixed purchased for the first event are reusable.

So far, around 300 people have enjoyed the two events, and Scott has heard nothing but positive feedback from participants, she said.

“They like it and they want to see it again,” she said.

For more information, call the library at 330-666-4888 or visit fairlawnbathbranch.akronlibrary.org.

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