The city of Orrville and the Orrville public library team up for a StoryWalk
ORRVILLE – Residents can now enjoy reading while walking in nature.
In collaboration with the city of Orrville, the Orrville public library has launched a new literacy project, Storybook Trail, to encourage children to read.
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“We wanted something that could be fun for families,” said Daphne Silchuck-Ashcraft, director of the Orrville Public Library.
The storybook trail begins east of the town’s dog park and is accessible from the Rails to Trails bike path and Orrville walking trail on Ella Street, according to the Orrville Public Library website. .
The library looked for additional ways to reach out and inspire people to read while they were enjoying the outdoors, Ashcraft said.
The Storybook Trail is part of the StoryWalk brand which was initiated by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, in 2007. To develop the project, Ferguson partnered with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. The idea is present in all 50 states and around 13 countries, including Germany, Canada and England.
City of Orrville engineer Dan Lowe came up with the idea last year
Ohio has over 40 StoryWalk trails. This kicked off the idea in Orrville last year and was proposed to Orrville City Engineer Dan Lowe.
“I had to think about how nature inspired literature for a long time,” Lowe said.
Lowe gathered information from different Storybook Trails in Ohio, and natural places like Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts inspired his design of the Orrville path.
The street department worked there last spring digging about 5 to 6 inches of soil.
“They worked tirelessly on it,” he said.
It was also necessary to remove dead trees or trees that would constitute a danger to the trail.
“We wanted people to interact with nature as much as possible, so we tried to limit the number of trees we removed,” Lowe said.
The final stages ended with several layers and different types of stones to make it an attractive and compactable walking surface for people with strollers to walk the trail without difficulty.
Pupils from Orrville Elementary School attend the launch event
The project began with a groundbreaking ceremony led by Mayor Dave Handwerk on October 8 with politicians, business owners, community members and second graders from Orrville Elementary School.
Ashcraft congratulated all the sponsors and members who provided financial support, materials and manpower to make the project happen.
The storybook journey begins with the children’s book “Over in the Meadow”, illustrated by Jill McDonald. Ashcraft said it’s a great starter book that will inspire conversations. “Families can talk about frogs, practice sounds or count,” she said.
Pages from the children’s book “Over in the Meadow” are displayed on metal podiums along the route. Families and children can read each page and then move on to the next as they walk the trail. Children can also scan a QR code where they can hear the rhyme and sing along.
The selected books will have a fun story, vivid illustrations and a compelling story, Ashcraft said.
“Personally, I like the ones that rhyme,” Ashcraft said. “The hope is to encourage reading, exploration and conversation for the child and the caregiver”,
This month’s story was sponsored by Orrville Library, Town of Orrville, Orrville Rotary Club, Friends of Orrville Public Library and Orrville Printing Plant. The plan is to change the story every month. Ashcraft said they will have at least two more pounds by the end of the year with a break during the winter.
“We will be looking for local sponsors for future books,” she said.