By Dale McGarrigle
Special to The Weekly
BREWER, Maine – An initiative of the Brewer Public Library is providing a new family activity for city residents.
The inaugural StoryWalk was held at 12:30-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 19, at Penobscot Landing Trail, near the library’s School Street location. About 44 people turned out for the event, finishing with refreshments donated by Tim Horton’s in Brewer. The StoryWalk will remain up until Oct. 28.
In a StoryWalk, the laminated pages of a children’s picture book, usually totaling around 30, are posted on wooden stakes along a scenic path. The title chosen for Brewer’s first StoryWalk was “At One” by Lynn Plourde, a Winthrop author and librarian.
The StoryWalk Project was originally created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library. StoryWalks have been installed in 45 states and four countries — Germany, Canada, England and Bermuda.
Donna Rasche, Brewer’s library director, sees several benefits to the StoryWalk, open to all ages but targeting emerging readers (grades four and five).
“It’s very important for children and families to get outside and exercise and it’s also important to read,” Rasche said. “This combines both. And the Penobscot Landing Trail seemed the perfect place to debut it.”
The StoryWalk runs from the entrance of the trail next to Schooner’s on South Main Street to the children’s garden, a path best suited for foot traffic.
The Brewer StoryWalk project has been headed up by library assistant Katie Conner. She received help from four volunteers from the Intervention for Families with Children class of the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus: Patricia Violette, Lynn Nicke, Meredith Bean and Rosemarie Carver.
“I cut the book apart, which was nerve-wracking,” Conner recalled. “[The volunteers] helped to laminate the pages then mount them on cardstock, painted the stakes, and set up the StoryWalk, then served refreshments at the debut.”
In order to alter (cut apart) the book, library officials had to gain permission from the book’s publisher, author and illustrator.
The event gained buzz around town through word of mouth, as parents took fliers to their PTO meetings and daycares.
It costs about $150 for the StoryWalk, not counting staff time, and Rasche hopes to line up sponsors for future events.
“In future years, we’d like to have StoryWalks at parks all over Brewer,” she said.
For more information, call the library at 207-989-7943.