Readers walk and walkers read in Couch Park

The Niedzwiecki family stops to enjoy the Stillwater Public Library’s ‘StoryWalk® in Couch Park’ which opens March 31.

Story and photo provided by Stillwater Public Library

The Stillwater Public Library’s newest health literacy initiative, “StoryWalk® in Couch Park,” celebrates with a grand opening Saturday, March 31, from 10 a.m. to Noon.

StoryWalk® is a way to combine literacy and fitness by placing pages of popular children’s picture books along trails for community members to read as they take walks. The Stillwater Public Library’s StoryWalk® has been placed on permanent posts along the walking trail in Couch Park.

The first StoryWalk® book is “From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle, who also wrote the very popular children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Beginning in May, “Eating the Alphabet” by Lois Ehlert, will be featured.

“Book pages can be switched out periodically, so there is always a new story to enjoy,” said Elizabeth Murray, children’s librarian.

The StoryWalk® books were chosen for their health-conscious content. “From Head to Toe” is a movement based book, and “Eating the Alphabet” promotes nutrition for children.

“Reading and exercise aren’t mutually exclusive,” said Murray. “We hope kids and families will pick up some good habits when they read the books, but we also hope these bright, fun stories will be an encouragement for kids to get outside.”

The project was made possible through a Health Literacy Grant from the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and Institute of Museum and Library Services. According to Murray, it was also made possible by some very hardworking City of Stillwater employees.

“The city’s Parks and Recreation and Operations staff installed all of the posts along the trail that snakes through the park,” said Murray. “They did a lot of working figuring out how to make sure they would be permanent, safe, and secure. We couldn’t have done this project without them.”

Children and families can try out the new park feature at the grand opening. After completing the 25 post StoryWalk®, readers will fill out a survey about the experience and earn a new children’s picture book and a pedometer, while supplies last.

In addition to the walk, attendees will enjoy healthy snacks provided by TSET Healthy Living Programs. Early Childhood Coalition and Payne County Health Department will be in attendance with health information for parents.

The grand opening is free and open to the public. No registration is necessary.

To view a video that explains “StoryWalk® in Couch Park,” visit the library’s website at http://library.stillwater.org or contact the children’s library Help Desk at 405.372.3633 x8108 or askalibrarian@stillwater.org.