Appalachian Regional Library has developed a project called “Story Walks, Story Books, Story Readers” to make reading more accessible and fun for children aged four to eight who are not currently library users. They have created Story Walks in parks, playgrounds, and walking locations throughout their region to bring children and their families to the library as a result of their participation in the Story Walks. Once the families come to the library, they are provided with library cards, invited to story times, and encouraged to continue reading and using the library. The primary goal of the project is to help more young children in the region engage in enjoyable reading and library experiences. Appalachian Regional Library is a three county library system that includes Ashe, Watauga, and Wilkes Counties.
The Story Walks project has three major components:
- The Story Walk – a self-directed learning opportunity which consists of a deconstructed book (picture, easy reader, or easy juvenile) with each page mounted separately along an outside path, so that the child walks from one page to the next to read the story. This is a fun way to promote reading, literacy, and movement for the whole family. The books used for the Story Walks will be changed monthly from September through June.
- An invitation – to those who have participated in the Story Walk to continue their informal learning opportunity with a library visit where they will be offered a free library card for those without one, a lanyard for their library card, and a chance to win a free copy of the featured book.
- E-readers and e-books for 4 to 8 year olds – provided by the library to encourage continued reading and to increase the children’s technology skills.
This unconventional way to experience a book will emphasize the pure fun of reading while at the same time provide a literacy experience (“a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”). Even if walking and reading just one book is all a child or a family does, it will be a beneficial and a very low cost activity for them to enjoy.
This project was funded as a 2014-2015 EZ Literacy & Lifelong Learning grant. This grant is made possible through funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.