Library officials host ribbon-cutting for new StoryWalk

Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | Danielle Crisp, left, with her children, Adalynn 5, and Connor 7 read a StoryWalk reading station as they walk the trail on Monday at Moreland Park.

Moreland Park's new StoryWalk is ready for viewing, and Daviess County Public Library officials celebrated with a ribbon-cutting Monday afternoon.

Owensboro's StoryWalk is the state's third. Its 20 reading stations stretch along the north end of Moreland Park between the tennis courts and playground.

The DCPL outreach project mixes literacy, exercise and family engagement. As families stroll through the park, they can read a children's picture book.

"The mission of Daviess County Public Library is to be that essential community connector," said Shannon Sandefur, community engagement manager. "The StoryWalk is a perfect example of that."

StoryWalks first started in 2007 at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont. Since then, they have been placed in every state and 12 countries.

Officials from DCPL, city of Owensboro and Owensboro Health gathered at Moreland Park for Monday's ribbon-cutting. The project was a joint effort.

DCPL earned a $6,850 grant from the health system to fund the StoryWalk. Employees of the city's Park and Recreation Department installed the reading stations.

Debbie Zuerner Johnson, OH director of community engagement, praised the library for finding an innovative way to engage families in physical activity.

"The library is taking a different role in impacting the health of the community," she said.

Before the ribbon-cutting ceremony started, Danielle Crisp and her children Adalynn, 5, and Connor, 7, visited all the reading stations on the StoryWalk. The Crisp family lives in Sorgho and sometimes comes to Moreland Park after school.

"Both kids really enjoyed it," Crisp said of the StoryWalk. "It's a different way for (Connor) to read rather than sitting down to read."

And she liked the questions at the bottom of each double-page spread, which encourage communication.

DCPL officials chose "In the Middle of Fall" by Kevin Henkes for its opening StoryWalk. The book describes the sights and sounds of autumn.

One question at a reading station asked: "How many words can you think of that rhyme with fall?"

Another asked: "What does the sky look like today?"

Some of the reading stations promote DCPL programs for children ages 5 and younger, such as Tiny Dancers, Little Leonardos, Mighty Minds and Mini Thinkers.

One reading station invited families to post pictures on Facebook — by using #dcplstorywalk — for a chance to win a prize. Another station promoted a national early literacy program titled 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. A QR code at the end of the message takes readers to the website to register.

The StoryWalk's reading stations are numbered. Books begin on the east side of the park near the tennis courts and end at the playground, moving with the park's normal flow of foot traffic.

Sandefur said the books will be switched out periodically. The next selection will be "Bear Snores On" by Karma Wilson.

To complete the project, grass seed will be planted next spring around the base of the reading stations, said Amanda Rogers, parks and recreation director.

Rogers praised the collaborative effort.

"It's great to have people and agencies who are willing to put the time and effort into projects they believe in that provide benefits to our community," she said. " ... This project is an example of that."

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835,

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