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“StoryWalk at the Park” promotes literacy, movement in East Northport debut

Outdoors by: Joanne Kountourakis, October 25, 2022

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong is the first story to be featured at the StoryWalk recently installed next to the East Northport Public Library.

Updated Saturday, October 29, 9:30am

The Northport-East Northport Public Library (NENPL) announced its inaugural StoryWalk last week, the library’s first ever of a popular program promoting literacy, reading, health, exercise, and movement in communities and neighborhoods across the United States and the world.

The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. A registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson, StoryWalks have been installed in 50 states and 13 countries including Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea.

The NENPL, in partnership with the Town of Huntington, began planning its StoryWalk at Ann and Connele’s Playground in the John J. Walsh Memorial Park next to the East Northport Library this past summer; Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes by Roseanne Greenfield Thong is the first story to be featured at the walk.

NENPL Children and Family Services Librarian Amy Wendol wrote a proposal back in April in hopes of being able to use the new playground in the park to display a StoryWalk. After library administration approved the idea, Branch Librarian Michelle Athanas worked with the Town Parks Department to get it approved at the town board meeting. The current book will be displayed through December. Amy’s plan, she told the Journal, is to change the story out in January with a different title and to switch selected books out seasonally.

Amy credited fellow children's librarian Keri Reiter as “the mastermind behind creating the actual images for the panels.”

According to the Kellogg-Hubbard website, 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 a fixed object and installed along an outdoor path; in East Northport, visitors can follow the book, page by page, along the perimeter of the playground fence. Each page includes the text from the book as well as prompts to get the reader (or the person being read to) moving and engaged, mentally and physically, in the book as well as the outside world.

“This girl has a guitar hanging on the wall of her room,” reads one prompt. “What is your favorite instrument? Pretend to play it on your way to the next page.”

The NENPL StoryWalk project is funded with the library’s budget as a passive outreach program for families. The library is hoping to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally come into the library, said Amy, and “offer them an activity to encourage movement and the development of literacy skills.”

Round is a Tortilla: A Book of Shapes will be available for viewing at Ann and Connele’s Playground through December 2022. For more information, click here.