As people stroll downtown or along the Vedder Rotary Trail this weekend they can also make their way through two different children’s storybooks.
It’s all part of StoryWalk, an outdoor literacy event where people read a children’s story spread out page-by-page over a walking distance. The project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and thanks to the Chilliwack Learning Society, folks in Chilliwack will be able take part in StoryWalk around Five Corners and along the Vedder River from March 6 to 21.
“When I was a kid, reading was more than just the book, it was about everything that happened in the environment of the book,” said Annette Williams, literacy outreach co-ordinator with Chilliwack Learning Society. “I would read walking to school and I remember seeing the grass pass underneath my feet and feeling the air.”
It combines three critical elements for overall family health: early literacy learning, family engagement outdoors and physical activity, plus it coincides with the City of Chilliwack’s 2021 Reading Challenge from March 1 to 21.
Laminated pages from children’s books are posted in store windows or attached to wooden stakes which are installed along an outdoor path. As people stroll down the trail or sidewalk, they’re directed to the next page in the story.
There will be one story in each location. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming will be in the downtown area starting at The Book Man; and Aliens Love Underpants (a book about secret things aliens do on laundry day) by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort will be located along the Vedder Rotary Trail starting at Vedder Park.
Downtown there will be 16 sites where the storybook pages are posted in the windows. Each location will tell the reader where the next page is. On the Rotary Trail, the pages will be affixed to wooden stakes in the ground and people simply continue along the trail to the next page.
There’s even an activity on each laminated sheet, such as finding a character on the page, making an angry face and hopping to the next page.
It involves “the whole body learning experience,” Williams said.
The first StoryWalk actually came to the Chilliwack area in October.
Retired Kindergarten teacher Hilda Bergen wanted to bring StoryWalk to her neighbourhood after getting the idea while out with her granddaughter. The two often ride bikes through Yarrow and along trails.
Last year, many Yarrow residents had signs on their lawns reading “Yarrow together in spirit.” As they rode along seeing the signs, Bergen’s granddaughter wondered why they all read the same thing. The two of them agreed it would be fun to have signs around their bike route which told a story instead.
Bergen’s StoryWalk is located near Yarrow elementary, where she used to teach. It begins at the north end of Wilson Road, past the dike, on the trail and continues east to the train bridge.
People love it, she said, adding that there’s a new story to read every month.
“It’s nice to hear their comments. It’s been very positive.”
There’s a StoryWalk in the works through the Yarrow Library as well.
Librarian Wanda Lindsay has been wanting to have one installed near the library for many years. The goal is they will have a permanent one installed at Browne Creek Wetlands by this summer. The permanent fixtures that will house the pages will be wooden and “as natural in the setting as possible” and the story can be changed.
The StoryWalk coming up March 6 to 21 through the Chilliwack Learning Society is geared to people of all ages, Williams said.
“Seniors love it.”
And she’s hoping for feedback, too. People are encouraged to take photos of their StoryWalk journey. At the end of each story, there will be info on how and where to share their images and comments.
For more, go to chilliwacklearning.com.