New Kind of Environmental Literacy

Photo courtesy of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library

Combine your family’s love of children’s books and nature by participating in the StoryWalk Project, a Vermont-based initiative that turns reading into a physical activity by posting stories page-by-page along popular walking routes such as nature trails. Besides improving reading skills and promoting exercise, StoryWalk’s books can also stimulate environmental awareness, says the project’s founder Anne Ferguson.

Ferguson often schedules seasonal books, such as Leaves by David Ezra Stein, a tale told through the eyes of a young bear that teaches readers about hibernation and the cycle of the seasons, or Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft, to be set up along a trail during time of year that coincides with the book’s theme. She also prepares StoryWalks with ecosystem or wildlife books that match the particular area they are installed, like Over in the Meadow, an old Appalachian folk poem, which was once set up along a Vermont nature center’s meadow trails.

Since 2007, the project has spread to 28 states, from Maine to Oregon. To find StoryWalks near you, click here or contact your local nature center or municipal recreation department. Interested in building your own? Check out Ferguson’s tips on how to install a StoryWalk by visiting the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition’s website.

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