Library celebrates Health Literacy Month “StoryWalk® in the Park” groundbreaking

Breaking the ground at Couch Park for Stillwater Public Library’s StoryWalk® project are (from left) Jim Scott, City of Stillwater Parks and Recreation; Alane Zannotti, City Councilor; Laura Shellhammer, Early Childhood Coalition; Cathy Albright, Stillwater Public Library Board; Senator Tom Dugger; Wanda Cunningham, Stillwater Public Library Board; Elizabeth Murray, Stillwater Public Library’s Children’s Librarian; Robin Cornwell, Stillwater Public Library Board; Kendra Smith, Payne County Health Department; Lynda Reynolds, Stillwater Public Library Director.

Story and images submitted by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library celebrated October’s “Health Literacy Month” with a ground breaking at Couch Park for its newest project, “StoryWalk® in the Park.” The project was made possible when the library received a $3500 Health Literacy Grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and Institute of Museum and Library Services. Senator Tom Dugger, City Councilor Alane Zannotti and other city and local organization officials were on hand for the groundbreaking.

“StoryWalk® in the Park is a way for children and adults to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time,” said Lynda Reynolds, library director. “The concept is simple. Place bright and engaging pages of a must-read picture book along a path and people will stop to read as they walk. Not only does it encourage walkers to read, but it also encourages readers to walk.”

The StoryWalk® will be completed and open for reading in March. The City of Stillwater Parks and Recreation and Operations staff will be installing the posts around the walking trail that snakes through the park.

“After hearing of the program, I thought it was a great project and wanted to partner with the Library to offer the experience in a park,” said Jim Scott, Parks and Recreation Manager. “I think the users of the park will enjoy the availability of additional activities in the park and should be an interesting program for the youth that use Couch Park.”

The books featured in the StoryWalk® are ones promoting healthy eating and exercise. The first installed book will be “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle, who also wrote the very popular children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

“We chose this book because it encourages children to mimic the movements of animals like giraffes, monkeys, donkeys and seals,” said Elizabeth Murray, children’s librarian. “When you make movement and reading fun, children are more likely to want to participate.”

The second book, “Eating the Alphabet” by Lois Ehlert, will go up in May.

“We want to encourage children to exercise and to read, but we also want children to become more health literate at an earlier age,” said Murray. “Ehlert’s book teaches children about healthy eating by showcasing vibrant and delicious looking fruits and vegetables from across the world.”

Health literacy, which is the ability to obtain, process, and understand the information necessary to make appropriate health decisions, has become a concern across the country.

The topic is now an important component of the library’s mission. Last spring, librarians held a five month program, “Simple Steps to Better Health,” which included health classes, Tai Chi and other health literacy activities for over 200 adult community members.

This time around, the library decided to plan health literacy activities around the needs of children and families. Besides the StoryWalk®, families can enjoy health and movement related activities at each story unveiling and children will have a chance to earn a free book. Additional health information targeted to children will also be included.

The Stillwater Public Library health literacy activities and promotions for adults and kids have both been made possible with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services administered through the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Stillwater Public Library’s StoryWalk® in the Park partners include Payne County Health Department, Early Childhood Coalition, Stillwater Parks & Recreation Department, and Stillwater Operations Department.

For more information about “StoryWalk® in the Park.” contact the children’s library Help Desk at 405.372.3633 x8108 or