By Melissa Proulx, Marketing Intern
Have you ever heard of StoryWalk®? It is a project which supports literacy and a love of nature, and it spans across 48 states and 5 countries. According to the Kellogg Hubbard Library, “StoryWalk® is an innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Laminated pages from a children's book are attached to wooden stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path. As you stroll down the trail, you're directed to the next page in the story.” The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration the Kellogg Hubbard Library. Storywalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center, Holderness Library, and Holderness Recreation Department have collaborated to bring StoryWalk® to Holderness. StoryWalk® can be found in the meadow along the bike path that leads to Kirkwood Gardens. It is a mowed trail with posts at various points. Each post has a couple of pages of the children’s book, Eliza and the Dragonfly, written by Susie Caldwell Rinehart and Illustrated by Anisa Claire Hovemann. I attended the opening of StoryWalk® on July 2. I was impressed and intrigued.
StoryWalk® provides a unique, educational experience for children. The story teaches about the life cycle of a dragonfly, and therefore offers some science education. It also uses the dragonfly’s growth as a metaphor for Eliza’s, allowing kids to learn about figurative language. It gives children a chance to practice their reading skills. The walking-between-pages setup allows children who may have a hard time sitting still to practice those skills as well, which makes it a special opportunity. Additionally, StoryWalk® helps kids stay active, both in body and mind, with suggested activities at each post. Examples include pretending to slide out of a dragonfly’s shell, and deciding what color they’d be if they were dragonflies.
I enjoyed StoryWalk® even as an adult. It was nice to be outside in the sun and get some vitamin D. As someone who likes to paint occasionally, I liked looking at the illustrations in Eliza and the Dragonfly. I appreciate the time it must have taken Hovemann to be as detailed as she was with what looks like watercolor paints, a medium that can be hard to work with.
I was fascinated by the live dragonfly nymphs, predacious diving beetle larva, and other small, aquatic creatures brought to the opening by Education Director Audrey Eisenhauer. There were some that I’d never seen or heard of, and it’s interesting to realize these creatures are common and live nearby. I’ll be the first to admit that I find insects a bit creepy, but I was still amazed to learn about the dragonfly life cycle. I would definitely recommend StoryWalk® to others, as it’s a free chance to learn and enjoy the outdoors.
StoryWalk® was generously sponsored by Meredith Village Savings Bank. The 2015 StoryWalk is closed but the 2016 story will open in July 2016. Check back for details.