StoryWalk Trails Combine Nature Hikes With Storytime

Read as you hike Triangle trails


Published:

A child enjoys a pop-up StoryWalk event at Brumley Nature Preserve in Chapel Hill.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Rosen, Lower School Librarian at Durham Academy

Imagine following the pages of a storybook along a nature trail, reading as you explore the outdoors. “Ten or eleven years ago, this idea was just kind of magic,” says Sean Higgins, interpretation and education manager at North Carolina State Parks. “I’m thrilled to see it pop up all over.”

As a community educator and parent, Higgins has joined individuals and communities across the country in his enthusiasm for StoryWalk trails: outdoor learning experiences that combine nature exploration with storytime.

The StoryWalk concept began in 2007 with Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont. A specialist in chronic disease prevention, Ferguson was looking for fun ways to get families outside and moving. She came up with the idea of separating out the pages of a children’s book and posting them along a local nature trail. The community responded with enthusiasm, so Ferguson began loaning out other StoryWalk books through Montpelier’s Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Eleven years later, StoryWalk trails have been installed in parks, on library campuses and along nature trails in all 50 states and 12 countries.



Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Brignac


How It Works

The basic StoryWalk concept is simple: Select a children’s book, take apart the pages, laminate them and post them along a trail so families can follow the trail from page to page, reading the story as they go. The process is perfectly legal as long as the pages are not altered in any way (including enlarging them). Making changes requires permission from the book’s copyright holder.

Within that basic framework, StoryWalk trails can vary widely. Durability is a prime concern for long-term StoryWalk installations. Partnership for Children, for example, recently installed a StoryWalk trail in Kinston. Because the installation is permanent, they ordered custom metal frames and posts that can withstand time and wear.

For a one-day StoryWalk event that Carolina Friends School, Durham Academy and Duke School set up in April at the George and Julia Brumley Family Nature Preserve in Chapel Hill, the organizers simply laminated the pages of a book themselves and posted them on sticks.

“It doesn’t have to be that fancy,” says Higgins, who uses a set of portable StoryWalk stakes and signs to display books at trails and events in state parks across North Carolina. “It can be the laminated pages of a kids’ book hole-punched, with yarn tying them to trees. I’ve seen everything.”


Display Choices

A community’s goal for its StoryWalk trail affects presentation choices. In the Wilmington area, the New Hanover County Public Library System, for example, has set up four permanent StoryWalk trails across the county. These particular books offer move-along instructions that direct participants to move in certain ways while walking from one sign to the next.

One book, “I Got the Rhythm” by Connie Schofield-Morrison, instructs families to move their feet rhythmically on their way to one sign, and shake their hips with their arms in the air on the way to another. In this case, the library system has gotten permission from the book’s authors to alter the book’s pages. That process costs money, but it also fits well with local community goals, says Harry Tuchmayer, library director for New Hanover County Public Library System. The county welcomed the library system’s StoryWalk proposal, Tuchmayer says, because it “fit with one of our county’s initiatives. We’re trying to get people a little bit more active — physically active — and libraries are always looking for ways that we can coordinate with the county’s overall strategic plan. And getting people healthy and moving was one of their goals.” 

A StoryWalk trail’s purpose also helps coordinators choose which books to display. Librarians at the New Hanover County Library look for books they can adapt to include move-along directions in ways that make sense with the illustrations.

The North Carolina State Parks system, on the other hand, often seeks books compatible with particular educational themes or events. At Stone Mountain State Park, for example, the park system holds an annual Old-Fashioned Day and sets up a book called, “When I Was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant as part of that event. The parks system also chooses books according to each year’s educational theme. “This year is The Year of the Fish,” explains Higgins, “so ‘The Rainbow Fish’ is making it around to a few parks.”

Other display considerations might include how long the organizers want the trail to be, the amount of space available, and the ages of the people whom they expect will use the trail.


Why Install a StoryWalk?

Higgins appreciates StoryWalk trails in part because they are a practical way to get families moving. “I love how it gets kids excited so they run ahead like, ‘I wanna hike! I wanna get to the next one!’ he says. “But then instead of running out of view, there’s a natural break for something that gives you time to catch up to them.”

Jennelle Lewis, project development coordinator for Partnership for Children in Lenoir and Greene counties, says, “It’s for people of all ages, for families to get outdoors, to bond. It really connects early literacy and physical activity.”

Lewis also emphasizes StoryWalk trails’ potential to bring people together. “I think it will help build communities,” she says. “You just sit and talk about what you see — do the activities at the bottom of the posts. It’s just a really great way to engage children and families.”


Bringing StoryWalk to Your Community

Want to bring StoryWalk to a trail near you? Vist kellogghubbard.org/storywalk and consult your local library and other literacy or education-oriented organizations about working together to install one in your community. Learn more at vermontlibraries.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/bringingsw.pdf.


StoryWalk Trails in North Carolina

Temporary StoryWalk trails pop up all the time, especially in North Carolina State Parks, so keep your eyes open for StoryWalk events in your community. Here are locations of permanent StoryWalk installations in North Carolina that are free for public use:

Alamance County
North Park: 849 Sharpe Rd., Burlington
Beth Schmidt Park: 2150 Elon Park Dr., Elon

Ashe County
Ashe County Park: 527 Ashe Park Rd., Jefferson

Haywood County
Canton Branch Library (mini StoryWalk): 11 Pennsylvania Ave., Canton
Vance Street Park: 430 Vance St., Waynesville

Lenoir County
Pearson Park: 210 W. Gordon St., Kinston

Macon County
Little Tennessee River Greenway: 573 E. Main St., Franklin
Horst Winkler Nature Trail at The Bascom: 323 Franklin Rd., Highlands

Mecklenburg County
Independence Park: 300 Hawthorne Lane, Charlotte
Seversville Park: 530 Bruns Ave., Charlotte
Grier Heights Park: 3110 Leroy St., Charlotte

Moore County
Southern Pines Public Library: 170 W Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines

New Hanover County
Hugh MacRae Park: 314 Pine Grove Dr., Wilmington
Smith Creek Park: 633 Shenandoah St., Wilmington
New Hanover County Arboretum: 6206 Oleander Dr., Wilmington
Carolina Beach Lake Park: 400 S. Lake Park Blvd., Carolina Beach

Onslow County
Onslow Pines Park: 1244 Onslow Pines Rd., Jacksonville
Hubert By-Pass Park: 220 Hubert Blvd., Hubert
Stump Sound Park: 1771 NC-172, Sneads Ferry
Deppe Park: 5472 New Bern Hwy., Mayesville
Richlands Steed Park: 278 Francktown Rd., Richlands

Watauga County

Memorial Park: 1036 Main St., Blowing Rock
The Tot Lot: 231 Complex Dr., Boone
Old Cove Creek School (spring/summer): 207 Dale Adams Rd., Sugar Grove

Wilkes County
W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir: 499 Reservoir Rd., Wilkesboro


Elizabeth Brignac is a freelance writer and mother of two adventurous boys. She lives in Cary.

 

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Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
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I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets Dave Ramsey" class that has teens experience...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

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Short class advertising for local class   I am a mom and retired CPA who is passionate about teaching teens about the high cost of their choices. I teach a fun, interactive "Game of Life meets...

Cost: $225

Where:
Hope Community Church- Apex
2080 E Williams Street
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Beyond Personal Finance
Contact Name: Charla McKinley
Website »

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Azevedo Family Psychology and Kym Azevedo will host an Art for Life group each Thursday from 5:30-6:30PM beginning January 16 and running through March 26. This group is completely free, kid...

Cost: FREE

Where:
1903 N. Harrison Ave
Suite 201
Cary, NC  27513
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Sponsor: Azevedo Family Psychology
Telephone: 919-624-9568
Contact Name: Kym Azevedo
Website »

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Explore astronomy, biology, architectural and engineering principles, technology and so much more through our hands-on, play-based activities. Spend an evening with your preschooler, experiencing...

Cost: free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Rapahel Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Katie Mistele
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The goal of the How To Talk So Kids Will Listen Group workshop is to help you communicate more effectively with children.   In each session of the workshop you'll be introduced to an...

Cost: $12.95 materials fee

Where:
Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
3100 Damascus Church Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27516
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Sponsor: Wildflower School at Belle Vie Farm
Telephone: 919-260-6859
Contact Name: Shelley Welch
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Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
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Telephone: 919-962-7529

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

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Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

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Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

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Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Join us for Family Trivia Night!  Test your knowledge of pop culture, books, music and more. Pizza and drinks provided.  Call or stop by to register: 919-245-2532. Best for kids ages 8 and up...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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Art Walk featuring local galleries and artist studios in historic downtown Hillsborough on the Last Friday of every month (no Art Walk in December).

Cost: FREE

Where:
Downtown Hillsborough (multiple locations)
102 N. Churton St.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Hillsborough Arts Council
Telephone: 919-643-2500
Contact Name: Torey Mishoe
Website »

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Kids! Are you sick of the Winter? Enjoy a Summer's night at Peach Road Center. Enjoy a Summer-like evening with us. Get into the luau spirit and play summer games!  

Cost: Free

Where:
Peach Road Community Center
911 Ileagnes Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: City or Raleigh Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-807-8545
Contact Name: Christy Famolare

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover different types of birds and their habitats.​ No preregistration required. Meet...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

How did people predict the weather before The Weather Channel, and can animals really help? Come to the Finley Center to put our colonial weather proverbs to the test and make a pop-up woodchuck...

Cost: For all ages; FREE. Registration is not required

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Summer Garden Camps at the JCRA invite your child to investigate nature during half or full day camps.  Campers tend to the garden, harvest vegetables, catch insects, and create crafts from the...

Cost: Varies depending on camp week

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: JC Raulston Arboretum
Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Join us to meet the educators, see the farm and learn more about our Preschool for 3-5 year olds and Camps for 4-10 year olds. We'll have a campfire for some warmth but please come dressed for the...

Cost: 0

Where:
Longleaf Forest School
4826 Mt. Moriah Road
Durhan, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Longleaf Forest School
Contact Name: Tara Lawson
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival, also Lunar New Year Festival. Largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE has vocal and orchestral music, folk dance, Lion and Dragon dances, martial arts, and comic...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Chinese New Year Festival or Lunar New Year Festival, largest public event in the Triangle. MAIN STAGE with musical and dance performances, Lion Dance Dragon Dance, martial arts, comic skits emceed...

Cost: $10 entry at door, military and senior discounts, kids<6 free

Where:
Dorton Arena, NC State Fairgrounds
1025 Blue Ridge Road
Enter Gate 1,2,4,5,11
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: NC Triangle Area Chinese American Society
Contact Name: Michael, Shin
Website »

More information

Skate on an ice trail or free skate on 17,000 sq. ft of ice. Located in the Upper Pond of the Whitewater Center, the skating environment features three distinct programming areas and an on-ice...

Cost: 20

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Lights is a half-mile walking trail that leads viewers through a series of immersive light installations featuring  honeycombs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the...

Cost: Free

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

Spanish Alive is providing Family Spanish classes starting in January! Join us to learn Spanish as an entire family in an immersive, fun environment. Our teachers are trained Spanish educators and...

Cost: $75-$216

Where:
Spanish Alive
156 E. Chatham St
Cary, NC
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Website »

More information

Did you know that Disney, Netflix, Google and NASA, just to name a few, are all using Python? Python can be used for creating web applications, automation, programming robots and artificial...

Cost: Free: registration required

Where:
, NC


Website »

More information

FEB. 1, 2020 | 1 – 4 P.M. | BLUE JAY POINT COUNTY PARK Spend a winter afternoon getting to know Blue Jay Point County Park at our Winter Open House. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Road
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
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More information

Come on out to support the NC State Gymnastics team as they take on North Carolina in a RED out on February 1st! The first 300 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive red NC State Gymnastics...

Cost: $3-$7

Where:
Reynolds Collisuem
2411 Dunn Ave.
Raleigh , NC  27607
View map »

More information

Hounded by Death, the character of Everybody desperately seeks out everyone and everything they know in hope of finding something meaningful to take to the grave. These 90 minutes of theatrical...

Cost: Ticket prices start at $15

Where:
PlayMakers' Repertory Company
120 Country Club Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27599
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-7529

More information

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Annual Guides

Education Guide

The 2019-20 Education Guide offers 718 education resources in the Triangle, including area preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.

The Triangle Go-To Guide

Our Triangle Go-To Guide connects you to family fun resources across the Triangle. In our 2019-20 issue, explore 1,028 resources for family fun.