April 20, 2019
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Walk and Talk

Local storybook walk encourages activity and reading
Siblings Carter and Hayley Neff enjoy looking at the photos of the book “Martin’s Big Words.”

 If you want to exercise your mind and body at the same time, a local literacy organization has made it easier to do just that.

In October, the Evansville chapter of Altrusa International partnered with the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library and the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation to install a storybook trail near State Hospital Park’s main entrance by the corner of Lincoln and Vann avenues. Named Trail with a Tale, the paved path is open year round and features a different book each month.

The trail is the first of its kind in the Tri-State, but is modeled after the StoryWalk Project created by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vermont.

“Our goal is to get parents and kids interested in reading together,” says Altrusa Evansville member Karen McBride. “I think it would be a great place to have a learning field trip.”

Altrusa Evansville members raised $10,000 to purchase a laminator, stone marker, signs, books, and 17 display cases. The group dedicated the trail to Mayor Lloyd Winnecke on Dec. 11, 2016, to commemorate the state’s Bicentennial.

“Martin’s Big Words” by author Doreen Rappaport is on display through February to celebrate Black History Month. Featuring the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and illustrations by Bryan Collier, the biography tells the story of the Civil Rights activist and leader’s life.

“We’ve tried to coordinate our books with seasons and holidays and to have a cultural balance,” says McBride, who served on the storybook trail committee.

Some books are classics, while others are new releases. The selections will offer something for all ages.

“We have a balance. We’ll have things parents knew when they were kids,” says Mary Alice Bertram, a storybook trail committee member.

Having books with strong graphics also was key.

“You want pictures that are going to engage the child,” says Jacky Schwartz, whose personal favorite is May’s featured book “Is Your Mama a Llama?” by Deborah Guarino. “We want something that’s going to jump out at them. The illustrations are important.”

Schwartz adds it is essential to encourage reading and learning as early as possible.

“The child’s brain by age 8 has developed, so it’s important to introduce literacy at an early age,” she says.

Local Altrusa members hope to install more storybook walks on the North Side as well as on the West Side and in the children’s wards of local hospitals.

For information about Altrusa Evansville, contact chapter President Donna Hodge at 812-499-6925.

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