The Chester Public Library has a treat for families with young children: a StoryWalk, built along a path in Chester Commons Park.
A StoryWalk is a series of stations — usually wood posts — along a path, with each station holding a page or two from a children’s storybook. The idea is to promote reading, enjoyment of the outdoors, and family fun time. And judging by the smiles on little faces at Chester's new StoryWalk, it did just that.
The pages can be laminated and attached by Velcro or some other means. But Chester’s StoryWalk features wooden display boxes with Plexiglas fronts installed on the posts.
StoryWalk was founded by Ann Ferguson, with the help of Rachel Senechal, of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont. When Maureen Jagos, director of the Chester Public Library, learned about the project, she applied for grants to establish one here. The library received $2,000 from the Orange County Department of Health’s Healthy Orange program. The Town of Chester pitched in $2,000, and the library contributed the rest. Lowe’s of Chester also helped offset some of the costs of the wood and the cement required.
'Penguins Love Colors'
The circuit holds 20 stands in all, and is a third of a mile long. The first book displayed is “Penguins Love Colors.”
The first stand also includes a holder with an optional activity sheet that asks questions about the book and the walk.
The Chester Highway Department erected the StoryWalk stations. Superintendent Anthony La Spina gave credit to three members of his staff: Dave Stoddard, Brian Bell, and James Utter.
“We had the trail in,” LaSpina said. “The seniors were using it as a walkway. It was no problem. We’re happy to help.”
“The StoryWalk is really great because you get to read a story, so you’re learning literacy, but you’re also exercising and getting outside,” said Emily Wilson, the library’s technical processing assistant. “We’re just happy to share this with the community.”
The project requires the library to buy two copies of a book.
“The entire book must be included in the project, whether you do it in the library or outdoors,” said Jagos. “That way not only do you get the cover page, but you get the inside page that has all the publication information. You have to use the original paperback books. You’re not allowed to make photocopies,."
Seventh-grader Carlie Cambria, 11, tried it out.
“It was good," she said. "It was very interactive. It was geared towards the little kids, but the older kids could go with the little kids. It would be good for both of them."
Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis presented a citation to Jagos honoring the library. Grace Riario, the executive director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), also attended. So did the library’s mascot, Webster the Duck, ably assisted by librarian Charles DeYoe III.
Get your passport stamped
The entire circuit is a third of a mile. The last stand has a booklet in which walkers can write a note giving their opinion of the book, or recommendations for future books. When kids complete a circuit and read the book on the way, they can bring their activity sheet back to the library, and the library will issue them a "passport" that will be stamped.
“So every time they come to the StoryWalk, they can get a new stamp in their passport,” Jagos said. “That way it brings them back to the library afterwards.”
For more information or for other activities, contact the Chester Public Library at 469-4252 or chesternypubliclibrary.com. Or, better yet, drop in and pick up a book for yourself. The library is located at 1784 Kings Highways.
You can learn more about StoryWalk at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library’s website: kellogghubbard.org/storywalk.
“It was good. It was very interactive. It was geared towards the little kids, but the older kids could go with the little kids. It would be good for both of them." -- Carlie Cambria, age 11