StoryWalk debuts at Palatine park
Parents and young children can accomplish two healthy pursuits simultaneously through an initiative debuted Wednesday by the Palatine library and park systems.
"How Rocket Learned to Read," a New York Times best-selling children's picture book by Tad Hills, is the featured work in a new StoryWalk project at the Tom T. Hamilton Reservoir. Pages of the story sit in laminated, permanent panels that kids and adults can read while covering a roughly half-mile path around the park, 1037 N. Smith St.
About 100 parents and children gathered on a sunny Wednesday morning for a ceremony kicking off StoryWalk and a trip down the path to learn about Rocket, a dog that learns to read with a little yellow bird serving as his teacher.
Palatine Public Library District Executive Director Jeannie Dilger is enthusiastic about the initiative, citing the physical and mental benefits for young children.
"We're learning now that a lot of early learning is very physical for kids," Dilger said. "And so, having that physical activity associated with reading actually helps stimulate the mind."
Dilger said she and others at the library were familiar with Hills from his work with an Illinois Library Association summer reading program. He gave his permission for library to use "How Rocket Learned to Read" for the StoryWalk.
Palatine resident Andrew Namowicz was among the parents who visited the StoryWalk stations. Namowicz brought his 1-year-old son, Walter, around the Hamilton Reservoir path in a stroller.
"I really like it," he said. "I like the idea of encouraging education outdoors. I like that Palatine is working to continuously improve their parks."
Palatine Park District Executive Director Mike Clark said Hamilton Reservoir was selected in part because it has a long path and is one of the district's most-visited outdoor facilities. Hamilton also hosts the library's periodic Story Time in the Park program.
"We've done a lot with the library," Clark said. "And when they proposed this (StoryWalk) idea, it was like the path's already there. It's just a natural thing. And whenever we can mix in kids with reading and playing and being outdoors, I'm in."
Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, created StoryWalk in 2007 with assistance from an employee at the city's Kellogg-Hubbard Library. StoryWalk displays have been installed in 50 states and 12 countries since, including Canada, Germany, Russia and Pakistan, according to the Montpelier library.