Schlow Centre Region Library will open an interactive outdoor reading experience Saturday at the Autumnwood Park in Ferguson Township. The experience, called StoryWalk, is a collaboration between Schlow and the Centre County Library and Historical Museum to promote literacy and outdoor entertainment among children.
Pages from a children’s storybook are arranged on a series of signs and placed along a trail for families to read as they walk. The walk is approximately half a mile long and includes 20 signs.
“It’s an opportunity to read and walk and develop literacy skills while getting physical activity,” said Cathi Alloway, the library director at Schlow. “And it’s a wonderful opportunity for families to do something fun together in an outdoor setting.”
The book chosen for Autumnwood Park is “Cat’s Colors” by Airlie Anderson. It follows Cat as she collects colors from different places throughout the day.
“We responded to that one because the visuals are really striking so we knew the pages would look great when the StoryWalk was installed,” said Katie Brennan, the children’s services librarian at Schlow. The illustrations in the book start in black and white and become more colorful as Cat begins to gather more colors. The end of the book, Brennan said, offers a surprise related to the colors that children will enjoy.
Alloway said that although the book is geared toward pre-school children, the unique experience is enjoyable for children and adults of all ages.
StoryWalk initially began in 2007 with two women at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Vermont as a way to encourage literacy in children and develop gross motor skills in children. Today, the project operates in various forms across all 50 states in the U.S. and in 12 countries.
The idea reached Centre County through the now-retired head of children’s services at Schlow — Anita Ditz. Last fall, the county library received a $50,000 grant from the Centre Foundation as part of its Centre Inspires grant program. The money allows for the installation of two StoryWalks. The second site is scheduled to open at the Tri-Municipal Park in Centre Hall on Nov. 2 with pages from the book “How Do You Wokka-Wokka” by Elizabeth Bluemle.
“The signs are permanent,” Alloway said. “That’s what’s nice about them is you can always visit them whenever your family wants. There’s no fee; there’s no appointment. They’re open to everyone.”
The two-hour opening ceremony on Saturday begins at 11 a.m. and includes activities for children along the trail like face painting, a bubble station and an art station. The first 100 families will also receive a free copy of “Cat’s Colors.” Autumnwood Park is located at at 2207 Autumnwood Drive in Ferguson Township.