By Tayler Huntley
If you are interested in a socially-distanced activity that takes place outdoors and involves learning, the Delta County Storywalk® may be for you.
A Storywalk®, put on by Delta County Libraries, is a children’s book that is spread out through a series of posts along an outdoor trail or in a park found around Delta County. The stories are geared toward early readers, but can be enjoyed by younger and older children as well. These Storywalk® are updated every two months and are located in Cedaredge at the Surface Creek trail, Delta at Sweitzer Lake State Park, Crawford at Crawford State Park, and Hotchkiss at the Delta County Fairgrounds. This program has been available in Delta County since 2016.
According to the Delta libraries website, “The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Storywalks® is a registered service mark owned by Ms. Ferguson.”
The Storywalk® were made available in Delta County through a series of grants and partnerships for each Storywalk®, said Communications Coordinator for Delta County Libraries Tracy Ihnot. These grants and partnerships with the libraries include Town of Cedaredge, Livewell Colorado, Region 10, the Nature Connection, Colorado Park and Wildlife, Great Outdoors Colorado and Delta County.
¨Our programming goals, which the Storywalk® are considered one of our programs, are all about meeting the needs of the community,¨ Ihnot said. ¨Building partnerships, making sure that the community understands we are here for them.¨
The library district has utilized Storywalks® during the pandemic, which has helped to combat the problem of in-person programs being cancelled.
¨These Storywalks® prove to be even more essential because of the pandemic and having to close libraries last spring and because of all of our COVID procedures where we can not have in person programming happening in the libraries,¨ said the communications coordinator.
Although Delta County doesn’t have everything a big city does, Storywalk® is a unique activity that can be done.
¨A family can make a day of it. They can visit the park, visit the Storywalk®, stop at the library, pick up some books, pick up a take and make kit, and go out to lunch,¨ said Ihnot.
Feedback from this program has been positive. Comments have been collected through surveys, social media and through the site. The following is a sampling of the comments.
A Delta parent said: “A super fun way to read to your kid! It was a great story with fantastic illustrations!”
A Cedaredge student said: “Thank you for letting kids have the opportunity to not only read but enjoy nature at the same time.”
A Cedaredge child said: “I look at the books and the rocks. Thank you for the walk.”
The libraries are in charge of managing each and every Storywalk®, which includes choosing the theme of the books and the take-home kits, choosing and purchasing the books that go into the display which have to be a certain number of pages and laminating them and paying for the maintenance. Ihnot praised the hard work of the staff that heads this programing.
According to Ihnot, the take-home kits have been popular and will continue to be available after COVID restrictions have ended. The library also offers take-home kits for teens and adults.
Because some of the Storywalks® are located in state parks, the library rents out state park passes to the community so it does not have to pay to enjoy the Storywalk®. These are rented out a week at a time.
¨The whole goal and mission behind these Storywalk® is to encourage families [and] children to get outdoors and read together,” said Ihnot.