Jul 28, 2020

The Tale about the Trail Tale


    As I was out last Friday setting up the new book at Sheldon Woods, I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how much the community treasures the Trail Tale.  Due to the pandemic and some structural damages to the pedestals, the story had not been replaced during the spring.  It had been missed.  Families were cheering when I arrived to change out the book.   Adults without children were thanking me for the impact the story trail has had on the community and for all the work we do at the library.  One group of young children was very intrigued by the mechanics of the physical replacement of the pages.  I soon had a small following joining me along the trail, reading as we went. 

    Many entities throughout the country have created their own type of progressive story along a path.  I have seen book pages posted along school walls, along drop off routes for summer camps, or even inside libraries.  Apparently the idea was thought up in 2007 by a disease prevention specialist in Vermont named Anne Ferguson. The idea was simple.  Take a picture book, cut it up, laminate each page, glue them to stakes, and set them out along a walking path.  Her goal was to encourage families to get moving.  Maybe children would race each other from post to post in an attempt to finish the book before their siblings.  Maybe the books would inspire some discussions about their surroundings and encourage them to walk further along the path.  In Ms. Ferguson's attempt to help the families in her community make healthier lifestyle choices, she set up the formula that many libraries have adopted - whether they know about her or the trademarked StoryWalk® she created. I, myself, had never heard of the program until I was at a library conference despite knowing several libraries and parks that had incorporated a similar project in their communities.
    The Trail Tale at Sheldon Woods is not part of the official StoryWalk® project, but its values are the same.  Our Trail Tale was initiated in 2017 by Eagle Scout Logen Denger.  His project was to create lasting and environmentally sustainable structures to showcase the storybook pages.   The Grafton-Midview Public Library, under the leadership of Director Adele Infante, and in partnership with Lorain County Metroparks ensured that Logan's vision to "provide an opportunity [for] growing families and children to get outside, practice their reading skills together and have fun while doing it" became a reality.
   As I drove back to the library just in time to serve our free summer lunch program provided by the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain, I thought about Anne Ferguson, Logan Denger, and other people in all kinds of professions who set out to make a difference in their communities    What a gift it is to see the positive and lasting impact the work we do at the library has on the community.  What a gift it is to be a part of it.

    Visit Sheldon Woods to see one of my favorite books.  It was the first book I read at a storytime almost 20 years ago.  It is a perfect one to act out in the woods and get your family moving.  If you are like me, you will turn it into a call back song complete with a dance.  Everything is better with a song and a dance.