In November 2022, Let’s Move in Libraries and the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services teamed up for our 2nd week-long event celebrating the inspiring work of libraries who spearhead StoryWalk(R) programs – promoting literacy, reading, health, exercise, and movement in communities and neighborhoods across the United States and the world. Go to the StoryWalk Week 2022 webpage to learn more!
The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.
Use the content below to get started with YOUR StoryWalk!
- Join the movement! Based on research Let’s Move in Libraries conducted in Spring 2017, over 300 public libraries in the U.S. and Canada have already offered outdoor StoryWalk(R) programs. Even more have joined in since then! Use this webpage to get the information you need to join this international movement to combine literacy, exercise, nature, and family bonding.
- Free webinar through American Library Association! On November 13, 2019, Let’s Move in Libraries teamed up with the American Library Association to offer a free webinar on “Taking a Walk with the Library: StoryWalk®, Walking Book Clubs and More.” Watch the recording!
- Get started with a free ready-to-go installation. You can use any title you own to start a StoryWalk! Many libraries like to have activity prompts around the pages to prompt deeper immersion in the StoryWalk. Curious City has partnered with publisher Child’s Play to make the title Cat’s Colors ready to go as a high-resolution PDF. Download this free ready-to-print StoryWalk title here.
- Logistical considerations Typically, pages from a children’s book are installed along a path. As you stroll along the path, you’re directed to the next page in the story. Pages frequently are accompanied by activities or information. Installations can take diverse forms, and include: 1) very simple set-ups that come up and go down in a single day (i.e. laminated pages attached to wooden stakes installed along a path, possibly around [or even inside] your library; 2) vendor-created StoryWalk® kits, with Curious City/Banacom Sign, Barking Dog, Vacker Signs, and Pannier being options; 3) DIY StoryWalk® installations, typically with the support of scouting groups or other volunteers.
- DIY It. As the StoryWalk movement has grown, many have decided to create their own permanent installations. Here is a how-to-do guide from Instructables if you want to go the DIY route.
- Important legal information The StoryWalk® concept was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT and was developed with the help of Rachel Senechal, Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Make sure to credit them in your StoryWalk®! Think of it as a creative commons license. You’re free to use the idea however you wish, but just give credit! Go to the official webpage of the StoryWalk(R) movement to learn more.
- Copyright information The pages you use can not be altered in any way, the pages can not be scanned or reproduced without permission. You can add supplementary information around the pages, but you can not alter them. If you want to alter the pages of the books, be sure to seek permissions from the publisher. The best information source on StoryWalk and copyright comes from the State Library of Iowa. Check out their answer to the question “I love the idea of doing a StoryWalk in my community, but I don’t understand all the legalities involved, including how to handle the trademark and copyright issues. Can I avoid the StoryWalk trademark rules by calling ours a ‘story walk’? And can I just photocopy and enlarge a book’s pages, since this is for educational purposes?”
- What do librarians have to say about how they got started?
- “I heard about it at a children’s librarians meeting and started investigating what it was”
- “We had an idea for a program – and had heard of StoryWalks. We have a nice garden area, and love to do outdoor programs”
- We’ve done a StoryWalk for the last couple of years. Each summer we’ve tried to follow the summer reading theme. This year (2019) we received a grant to construct a more weather resistant and permanent StoryWalk”
- “We offered 2 different storywalks over 2 summers as part of our summer programming”
- [We got started by] “trying to incorporate opportunities for literacy during larger scale events when partnering with the Parks and Recreation department”
- “I saw it at a conference and decided to try a temporary StoryWalk”
- “Grant funds”
- Add your voice! Use this form to help us build this Program Idea page.
- What books make for a good StoryWalk®?
- Any book you own can be used for a StoryWalk as long as you do not digitally alter the pages.
- You can also create a StoryWalk using stories and art created by your communities!
- If you’re looking for suggestions of titles to use, consider the following sources
- How can I make my StoryWalk(R) as accessible as possible?
- Libraries are all about access, but we are not as familiar with accessibility hurdles associated with outdoor installations like StoryWalks.
- Mandy Easter of the State Library of Iowa organized this great resource guide on “Incorporating Accessibility into StoryWalks®” – Check it out!
- The State Library of Michigan has also been working on this topic, partnering with the Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) Low-Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO), and Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL), to make Braille Enhanced StoryWalk® programs available across the state.
- U.S. librarians, reach out to your local member of the Network of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress to suggest a partnership
- Sometimes the word “walk” can be stigmatizing for those who physically can not walk – Consider alternative names like Trail Tale or Story Trail if this is a concern.
- Consider using technology to increase accessibility. Some librarians now offer voice-enabled StoryWalks in which readers scan a QR code, use RFID technology, or press a button to hear pre-recorded audio of librarians reading the story page. Here’s an example from North Carolina.
- How do you address accessibility in your StoryWalk®? Let us know!!
- What costs are associated with StoryWalk(R) programming? (Feedback from librarians)
- “You need at least 2 copies of the book in order to be able to put together the walk since you have to use fronts and backs of pages – we found really good copies in our booksale and used our library copy – then bought a new copy for library use”
- “Just the cost of 2 copies of the book (paperback is best), paper and laminating. Used plastic ties and grommets to hang from a fence with solar lights so it’s visible at night. Also used tape to adhere to the walls in the gymnasium”
- “Costs for reusable sign materials, costs for books and staff time to prepare and set up. Most costs have come out of the Outreach budget”
- “Creating outdoor signboards. Grant funds pay for these”
- Other things to consider, according to librarians:
- “Try a temporary one before investing in a permanent one to gauge community interest.”
- Installation specifics, and budget: How to place and secure the book pages, and how long they need to last in the elements. “We have done this cheaply by using wooden stakes, and stapling laminated pages to the stakes, but this is for temporary story walks, and installing wooden stakes that were tall enough to have the pages visible was harder than we anticipated. You can also buy very expensive permanent sign holders.”
- Look at your weather, and if you plan to use oversized books, you should know that you may need a special laminator. “Our library doesn’t leave our walk up year round, because our winters get very harsh, and our springs are very muddy. We usually leave it up for a week or two in the summer.”
- “We originally purchased all of them, but have since purchased others that we thought would work well. For example, a couple of years ago, our local elementary school had Jan Brett as an author visit (won a contest). I did her Gingerbread Baby story as a StoryWalk that was set up in the school hallway”
- “Sturdy posts – especially if the ground is hard! Kids really enjoyed the story if they were asked to do/walk an uphill that would otherwise have felt hard. Make sure you know who owns the land – we had ours in a state park (with permission) but it turns out a small strip was owned by others”
- “Read-ability” of a book and relevance to the community”
- “If you want to do a permanent one or a temporary one. What costs are for both, where the funding will come from”
- “Finding a book that works well for their community”
- What about a permanent StoryWalk? Here are some things to consider:
- It’s permanent! This is a long-term commitment
- Do you need funds for landscaping post-installation or will your partners (i.e. Parks) take care of that?
- Funds for a public opening of the StoryWalk® – Tell the media!! Make it an event!
- Funds to produce a web page or site to support StoryWalk®
- Funds to remove graffiti, replace damaged signage, or other wear-and-tear -> Have these conversations with your partners. Consider signing a Memorandum of Understanding that states “the library is responsible for X” and “[your partner] is responsible for Y”
- Consider having a team who can help with creating questions, choosing stories, assembling boards, changing out stories, maintaining stories in parks, etc. Have certain locations responsible for specific StoryWalks®
- Create a spreadsheet of stories used in which parks on which dates, rotation of who is changing stories, etc.
- Equipment needed for the park (wagon or multiple wagons if StoryWalk® spreads throughout the county, tools)
- Plan if posts/frames damaged
- Feedback from librarians:
- “As of right now, we don’t have any outside Storywalks, but I’d love to have one (or two) placed in our local parks. Ours are on collapsible easels that can be transported easily and set up either inside or outside (we’ve done both)”
- “Permanence, versus cost. Permanent, or semi-permanent sign holders that will stand up outside are quite costly. This is why we have done short-lived StoryWalk installations. We have set them up for specific programs or groups, and then have left them up for up to two weeks, because the stapled laminated pages that we use would not last much longer than that.”
- “Weather proofing is so important. We also switched to laminating the pages, and velcroing them to our boards, because that way we don’t puncture the laminated pages with staples, and velcro holds up pretty well. Always talk to landowners or the town for permission before installing your StoryWalk!”
- “Sturdy posts. Heavy laminating. You have to walk it and check it at least once a week. It takes a while to set up if the ground is hard”
- “If they are portable, how will you transport them? Do you have extras if the boards get damaged?”
- A weather-protected notebook at the end of the trail (possibly in an old mailbox)
- A QR code folks can scan to leave feedback – Here’s an example from Charlotte Mecklenburg Library in North Carolina
- Ask parks staff to keep an eye out and share with you what they’re seeing
- Make sure to check (at least quarterly) to see what people are doing with the StoryWalk
- You could schedule your check-ins around the same time you swap out the stories
- Feedback from librarians
- “Plan an event around the StoryWalk- don’t just install it and wait for folks to come. Advertise and have a reception, or plan it in conjunction with an already established outdoor event.”
- “We have always included a booklet for folks to leave comments in at the end of our Storywalks. Perhaps a mailbox or covered box of some sort would be useful.”
- “We have not done any formal assessment, but the collaboration with other agencies along is a great accomplishment, and marker of success for us.”
- “We had a ziplock bag with short questionnaires and small pencils hanging from the final post… Not too many were filled in”
- “Use QR codes or links to post feedback or pictures or use a hashtag #storywalk_town/city”
- “Give a prize or sticker to families that complete a short evaluation”
- Highlight importance of movement and family bonding to early literacy. Appalachian Regional Library Resource Guide illustrates how.
- Include activity prompts in your StoryWalk®
- Emphasize importance of fostering connections to nature – Great resource from Children & Nature Network shows how.
- Emphasize the community building, outreach, and relationship building outcomes. Resource: ALSC’s
“Partnering Through StoryWalks®”
- Consider working with your Chamber of Commerce. In Alamance County, North Carolina, StoryWalk Kick-Off events all Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting events: For a $100 fee, the Chamber takes care of printing up the agenda, helping recruit speakers and officials for the kick-off, and they have the oversized scissors and ribbon for it all.
- More ideas for celebrations and kick off events Photo albums of some of the 5 kickoffs and 5 celebrations CML has had since fall of 2017 – https://bit.ly/2oYNp6x / https://bit.ly/31VttA3 / https://bit.ly/35gKDKe / https://bit.ly/31XzbkI / https://bit.ly/31PRYhX / https://bit.ly/2OrOr5G
- Think creatively about how you can use StoryWalk® as a conversation starter to engage your community
- Feedback from librarians
- “Our original funding came from our local Kiwanis group. I went before the group at a luncheon, talked about what I knew and had figured up a cost. Our next one is a collaboration between us and our local United Way (we are doing The Polar Express during our community’s Candlelight Christmas event).”
- “The combination of movement (activity) with literacy and story enjoyment is great for many grant opportunities. We have also emphasized the whole family together aspect of story walk enjoyment.”
- “We try to emphasize that we bring the library outside of the building to the people – that we try to reach any and all people, not just people comfortable with our library specifically. Conveying that reading is for everybody – that it can be done together with friends or family – that this is a way of reading that all ages can participate in. We emphasized outdoors time and moving too.”
- “It is a great family program that incorporates reading with activity”
- “Art and exercise and literacy. What’s not to like?”
- Partnership and funding ideas form librarians
- “We have done a StoryWalk at a local museum, and in collaboration with our county extension office, and we have been trying to collaborate with the local parks department.”
- “Altrusa of Laconia gave the Library a grant to help create a more weather resistant and permanent story walk.”
- See the Programming Librarian website for ideas on partnering with Parks & Recreation Departments and Scouting organizations.
- “We have used some grant funding specific to outdoor programming and some internally earmarked program funding. We have done ours very cheaply. We purchase two copies of the book, laminate the pages, and staple the pages to wooden stakes. The wooden stakes, and the labor to install them are the most expensive parts. we have never had a story walk up for more than a couple of weeks.”
- “We got a grant for supplies, and we can usually add to the children’s budget to purchase 2 oversize storybooks.”
- “State Park, as well as a private country club that owns a piece of land it shares with the public, town”
- “Local garden center and parks”
- “Health organizations, walkability organizations, recreation, Friends of the Library”
- Contribute to downtown revitalization by inviting local business owners to post pages in their store-front windows, possibly during the Winter holidays, over Spring Break, or at another time of year
- Invite the author to participate in the StoryWalk – Example from CML: Community Read – Matt de la Pena featuring Love in March 2019
- Mix it up and do a Poetry Walk for adults. Here is how they do this in Vermont.
- More DIY possibilities – a Poetry Walk featuring poems written by adult literacy learners – example from Massachusetts.
- Feature student artwork rather than commercially published text – example from New York.
- Include local history rather than a children’s book – example from Tennessee.
- Once you get the installations up you can pretty much put whatever you want in them! Think creatively!
- Ideas from librarians
- “We have used a StoryWalk during our summer reading program as one of the activities. We put the posters in downtown business windows (with their permission), and participants had a 1/2 sheet of questions that they had to answer and turn in for a prize. With our Christmas one this year, the final stop will be the library, where they will get hot cocoa, cookie and a bell. They will also have a map of the places where the posters are placed to follow.”
- “We participate in a trunk-or-treat story walk each year. This features a book page at every station in a circle in a large parking lot (the book pages set up on easels). Various community organizations and volunteers have a “trunk” station to go with each book page, and they can decorate according to the story/book page they are at. The library provides copies of the book at the end for each child to take home. This is what we have done in collaboration with the county extension office each year.”
- “We did a heritage StoryWalk one year,” highlighting local history.
- “We used ours to encourage children to traverse a fairly steep walk up and down a river gorge – to engage them and have them realize they had walked a ways before they even knew it because they were so into the story! So – a great way to help families on their first ‘family’ hike.”
- “Outdoor nighttime event-used solar night lights to illuminate the book and included a QR code for the music (title was: Winter Wonderland)”
- “We did a storefront StoryWalk at Christmas time. Also we have given seed packets at the end of a walk.”
- “We take ours to outdoor events and places like the zoo. Also, snowshoe StoryWalk is super fun.”
Anne Ferguson and Kellogg Hubbard Library. StoryWalk®. Official webpage of the movement, full of valuable resources.
Bring a StoryWalk® to your Community. Maine website with lots of resources about creating StoryWalk® programs.
Appalachian Regional Library System. StoryWalk® LibGuide. Wonderful how-to guide created by a rural library system in Appalachian North Carolina. Great for libraries of all sizes.
Curious City’s beautifully designed StoryWalk® panels feature each spread of a picture book with a companion reader engagement prompt. Each StoryWalk is customized to thank your sponsors and deliver community messages. Curious City StoryWalks are now managed b longtime collaborator Banacom Sign in South Portland, Maine.
Maddigan, B. and S. Bloos. 2014. Community library programs that work: Building youth and family literacy. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited. Chapter on StoryWalk. Great resource from Canada.
ALSC Liaison with National Organizations. Partnering Through StoryWalks®. 2016.
Belle Plaine Public Library. 2017. StoryWalk® How-To. Good resource from Kansas
Fond du Lac Public Library. 2015. Lakeside Park StoryWalk combines reading, outdoors.
StoryWalks & StoryMobs – taking Early Literacy beyond the library walls, Valley Storytime
The following librarians have agreed to be expert resources for StoryWalk(R) programming. Reach out to them with additional questions!
Barbara Scott, Children’s Librarian @ Bucyrus Public Library, Bucyrus, OH 44820
Lea Wentworth Youth Services Librarian at McCracken County Public Library, KY
Kayleigh Thomas, Gilford Public Library, NH
Cathy Potter, Children’s and Teen Librarian, East Hartford Public Library, East Hartford, CT
Angela Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Nova Scotia
Are there additional resources you use at your library to support StoryWalk(R) programming? Let us know using this form and we’ll add them to this webpage.