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Story path another outlet to enjoy reading

For Katy Hollinger, the opportunity to promote fresh air, exercise, and a colorful story was a win-win idea for Rosa Parks Elementary. “Reading can happen anywhere. It doesn’t have to be confined to a book,” said Hollinger, the school’s library media specialist. “This is fun, different format. It’s more of a group read – a shared experience.”

The story path at The Arboretum inspired Hollinger to try an installation on a simpler scale outside her school. She first went on a hunt at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, looking for books with double-page spreads and big impact. She also wanted one that was not so common or expected. Her first pick? “We Are Water Protectors,” a Caldecott Medal winner for best illustrations in a children’s book. “As you’ll see, it’s absolutely gorgeous!” she said. Hollinger also chose it for the Earth Day connection and the environmental pledge at the end, which closes the activity with an interactive component.

To build the story, Hollinger bought two copies of the book so she could tear out and laminate the back-to-back pages. She then used packing tape to reinforce the paper before attaching it to a yard sign. “My goal is to get to a place where we can build wooden stands with plexiglass to make it easier to change out the books,” she said.

This project, which is backed by the Rosa Parks PTA, provides a fresh option for children at recess. In addition, some classes go outside specifically to explore the 20 panels stretched around the walking track. “All of us went to the first sign, and we all read it on our own,” said 7-year-old Neeli Taghaddosi, who liked moving at her own pace. Afterward, she and her friends were ready to circle again and eager for a new adventure. “It’s another great way to enjoy reading rather than sitting still at a desk,” said Neeli’s second grade teacher, Kellie Cameron.

This summer Hollinger plans to swap in “Someone Builds the Dream,” illustrated by Lafayette High School graduate Loren Long. “This one has beautiful double-page spreads as well. The font also mattered,” she noted after selecting the second book.

Rosa Parks’ walk-and-read installation is available to all. One day recently, for instance, a trio of neighborhood residents veered off the adjacent walking path to follow the story. “Already we’ve gotten so many comments from our families because it’s really brought our community together,” said Principal Claudine Barrow. “Our parents love it and are ready for another story!”


(Posted May 4, 2021)