by Ronnie Estoque
On Wednesday, April 21, Seattle Public Library (SPL) and Seattle Parks & Recreation (SPR) launched StoryWalk in the Parks for Earth Week at four different local parks. The collaboration intends to encourage an outdoor reading experience, where families can read picture books that are posted alongside walking routes at Genesee Park (Upper Field parking lot) and Herring’s House Park (Tualtwx), as well as Magnuson Park and Northacres Park. The event will last until Saturday, April 24.
The various StoryWalk trails intend to showcase a diverse group of picture books that are relevant to nature and its preservation. Each chosen park is in a different geographical region of the city that was an intentional choice to make the program more accessible to all Seattle residents. Louisa Storer, a Children’s Librarian at the Broadview Branch, selected most of the books that were chosen for Earth Week, which include We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade, Harlem Grown by Tony Hillery and Jessie Hartland, The Storm Whale by Benji Davies, and The Tin Forest by Helen Ward and Wayne Anderson.
According to Elisa Murray, a Communications Specialist at SPL, StoryWalks are an ideal activity for families and children.
“It takes place outside, while encouraging reading and exploring at a distance,” Murray said in an email. “Pages from a book are placed along a trail on signposts, almost in stations, and families can follow the trail while reading. It encourages reading, imagination, fitness and exploring your community.”
Murray believes a StoryWalk is a perfect pandemic activity because it is outside with story panels spaced along a trail at each park and small groups are recommended for park visitors, in addition to the wearing of masks and a maintenance of six feet of distance between groups. Lan Lum, a Community Naturalist at SPR, hopes that the StoryWalks can have a positive impact on people’s mental health during the pandemic.
“… We [SPR] understand the power of the outdoors on the health and well-being of our people,” Lum said in an email. “StoryWalks have the potential to connect people to books, nature, and each other. They can provide meaningful shared experiences and spark conversations among families and friends.”
Those who are planning on visiting the StoryWalk at Herring’s House Park (Tualtwx) are encouraged to also visit the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center to learn more about Duwamish history and culture in the area.
According to Lum, future StoryWalks will be accessible to the community throughout the remainder of Spring and into the Summer.
“Pop-up StoryWalks will be included as part of Seattle Park’s Rec’N the Streets mobile recreation program during this spring and summer, which travels to different parks around Seattle,” Lum said.
SPR is also offering other activities throughout Earth Week for people to participate in, including making Do It at Home Earth Day kits, watching an Environmental Education playlist on YouTube, attending Clean Up Our Parks events, and taking nature walks.
Elisa Murray told the Emerald that in late April, SPL will be presenting a StoryWalk in both Spanish and English, featuring the book Waiting for the Biblioburro by Marcia Brown. More information about the event can be found on SPL’s website.
Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.
📸 StoryWalk in the Parks graphic courtesy of Seattle Public Library.
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