Scott Bahlmann, youth and teen services librarian at the Jefferson County Library, kneels next to the start of the storywalk outside the library. Bahlmann, along with public services manager Chris HoffmanHill, curated the three storywalks that are now located throughout Jefferson County. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Scott Bahlmann, youth and teen services librarian at the Jefferson County Library, kneels next to the start of the storywalk outside the library. Bahlmann, along with public services manager Chris HoffmanHill, curated the three storywalks that are now located throughout Jefferson County. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson County Library creates reading paths

Three storywalks encourage families to enjoy outdoors

PORT HADLOCK — The Jefferson County Library has added new ways for families to enjoy stories while staying active by creating storywalks along walking trails.

The three storywalks incorporate six children stories. Two stories are presented at each location.

The storywalks are located outside the Jefferson County Library, 620 Cedar Ave., Port Hadlock; HJ Carroll Park, 9884 state Highway 19 (Rhody Drive) in Chimacum; and on the walking path at Brinnon School, 46 Schoolhouse Road, said Chris HoffmanHill, public services manager.

Library Director Tamara Meredith was inspired by other storywalks created by libraries in Vermont.

After seeing a library in Spokane use real estate sign frames as an affordable and stable structure, the team began to work on the project, HoffmanHill said.

The storywalks are to encourage physical activity while helping young children read.

“The point of a storywalk is to promote physical activity and engagement with reading and just plain fun together outdoors,” HoffmanHill said.

Each storywalk has 21 signs set about 10 paces apart with one page from the picture book on each sign. The signs are two-sided, so the first side as one walks into the storywalk tells one story. As people turn around and walk out, they can read the other story page by page.

“Not every picture book is 21 pages, so we standardized it to 21 pages because that was our longest story,” HoffmanHill said. “Now, what we’re doing is creating a library of stories, so they’ll all be 21 pages.

“So, any storybook that is not exactly 21 pages, we put some add-on activities for families to do together.”

Each storywalk cost about $1,500 to create. The library used funding it had set aside for programming that ended up not being used due to closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, HoffmanHill said.

“We thought this was a good way to spend it, so people can spend time outside together whenever,” she said.

The library had applied for a grant to fund the storywalks, but it was denied. The team decided to move forward anyway, HoffmanHill said.

“The grant didn’t come through and we just went, ‘This is such a great idea, this is the time to do it, let’s do it,’ ” she said.

HoffmanHill worked with Scott Bahlmann, youth and teen services librarian, to curate the storywalks.

Bahlmann has appreciated being able to watch the variety of families walk through the storywalk at the library, he said.

“We’ve just enjoyed seeing people going around and enjoying the time and space,” Bahlmann said.

The storywalk outside the Jefferson County Library displays the stories, “Please, Mr. Panda Por favor” by Steve Antony and “Smart George” by Jules Feiffer, HoffmanHill said.

The storywalk at HJ Carroll Park is located just past the kids playground and Master Gardeners display garden. It has the stories “Petra” by Marianna Coppo and “Play Outside” by Laurent Moreau.

The storywalk at the Brinnon School District’s walking path is open to the public during non-school hours and has the stories “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon and “The Pidgeon Wants a Puppy!” by Mo Willems.

It takes three copies of each book to make one storywalk, with two that are deconstructed, laminated and attached to the signs and the third used as a guide for arranging the pages and to be used as replacements if any of the pages get damaged.

The stories will be rotated through to the different storywalks about every three months, HoffmanHill said.

“Repetition is so important for young people when they’re learning to read because they figure them out and then they practice and practice,” she said. “So leaving them there is really beneficial.”

Adding new stories and more storywalks is not off the table, but the library would need more funding to do so, HoffmanHill said.

People who are interested in donating to the storywalks can contact the library at 360-385-6544.

________

Jefferson County Reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at [email protected].

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