Stroll through a storybook spring
In the words of Gustav Mahler, “Spring won’t let me stay in this house anymore!” I have to get out and breathe deeply again. With that in mind, I plan to take a stroll right here in the town of Zionsville – along the Elm Street Green Trail – to experience the new StoryWalk project for myself.
Zionsville’s Newest Attraction
The StoryWalk project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in conjunction with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition (VBPC) and the Kellogg Hubbard Library.
The Zionsville StoryWalk Project is a collaboration between the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library (HMMPL), the HMMPL Foundation, and Zionsville Parks and Recreation. The permanent installation is located along the half-mile paved loop in Elm Street Green and officially opened to the public on March 20, 2021. It is a free exhibit at multiple stations in the prairie section of the park.
The Zionsville Parks and Recreation Department recently installed permanent structures allowing HMMPL to share a book, page by page, throughout this self-guided walking tour. It allows visitors of all ages to enjoy both reading and the great outdoors.
“Elm Street Green’s new feature supports our mission to provide unique, accessible services that inspire people to learn, play and engage,” said Mindy Murdock, Director of Leisure Services. “The Zionsville Parks Department has benefited from years of partnership with the library. This collaboration allows us to continue to develop exciting recreational opportunities and reach new members of the community.
HMMPL and the Department of Parks have offered at least 10 joint programs per year for several years. The success of these programs helped set the stage for HMMPL’s most recent Parks Department collaboration. The StoryWalk will incorporate monthly events with participation from HMMPL and the Zionsville Nature Center.
Children’s librarian Laura Gangstad said she received a lot of support from Murdock when the two discussed the prospect of having a permanent StoryWalk feature at Elm Street Green.
“Mindy was so supportive,” Gangstad said. “She said that if I got the grant, we would propose [the project] to the Department of Parks and the Library Foundation. I got the offer for the $9,000 to get the  posts and enough money to buy books for two or even three years. We will have a different book – from respected authors – at the start of each month and we will have a story hour [event] or something associated with the new book and the StoryWalk.
Gangstad said the StoryWalk and related programs are linked to the national Every Child Ready to Read program which encourages parents to interact with their children using the five early literacy practices: singing, speaking, reading, writing and playing.
“Each child ready to read will be highlighted somewhere along the trail,” Gangstad explained. “The more children read, write, talk, sing and play together, the more ready they will be for school.”
The first feature film
Look for signs of spring along the StoryWalk path and read “Bloom Boom!” by April Pulley Sayre throughout March and all of April.
“The photograph of this first [featured] the book is beautiful,” Gangstad said. “April [Pulley Sayre] focuses on things in nature to look at. It will appeal to both adults and children. »
The author of “Bloom Boom!” shared with me what she hopes people will take away from her book as well as the StoryWalk experience as a whole.
“I am thrilled with HMMPL’s StoryWalk installation,” said Pulley Sayre. “My books reflect the joy of nature and scientific research. I hope they send readers back to nature with refreshed eyes. ‘Boom Boom !’ celebrates the blossoming of flowers in gardens and in the wild. Its chorus, BLOOM, BOOM!, is meant to be said together, out loud, with whatever level of calm or great enthusiasm you like. So, I can’t think of a better place to do it than outside on HMMPL’s StoryWalk!
Pulley Sayre continued, “After the pandemic, really anytime, books and time outdoors help rekindle our joy. A study has shown that even five minutes in a green outdoor space, especially with a view of the water, can help lift people’s spirits and improve their mental health. It is important for young children, our elders and all of us in the middle as well. I hope that after reading “Bloom Boom!” our youngest strollers will have a few more science words in mind to ask questions and learn more.
Join the StoryWalkers Club
The library needs your feedback on your StoryWalk experiences! Just go to zionsvillelibrary.beanstack.org/reader365 and sign up to be part of the StoryWalkers Club.
“If people join the [StoryWalkers] Club through Beanstack – there’s a link on our website – they can give me feedback directly which I can pass on to Mindy and the library foundation,” Gangstad said. “I’m going to list all the books there, and people can check it off as having seen it and give us a little feedback.”
So grab your buggies or trolleys and head to Elm Street Green to enjoy this month’s book selection and a taste of a well-deserved spring season outdoors.
For more information on the HMMPL programs and/or the HMMPL Foundation, visit zionsvillelibrary.org.
StoryWalk titles scheduled through September 2021: