While exploring Camp Chowenwaw and Spring Park recently my daughters and I stumbled upon StoryWalks. What is a StoryWalk exactly, and where are StoryWalks in North Florida? We weren’t sure either but we followed along and had a blast doing so. Simply put, a StoryWalk is a guided walking path where the pages of a children’s storybook are displayed throughout the trail. As you walk and read the pages of the book you are prompted to engage with the story. This could be by completing silly activities or answering discussion questions pertaining to the story.
Local StoryWalks are created with partnerships with libraries, businesses, and park systems. They engage families in fun outdoor activities that combine exercise and reading. These story adventures are a wonderful activity to build literacy in the community. At the same time they encourage a love of reading while also promoting local parks. Every location changes out the children’s books every three months and every location has a different book and activities to read and play.
StoryWalks in Duval County
Installed in 2020, Jacksonville currently has one StoryWalk located in Kluthlo Park in Springfield. Visitors of the StoryWalk should use the side parking lot located at the intersection of Boulevard Street and West 2nd Street to access the StoryWalk.
StoryWalks in Clay County
Installed throughout 2020, Clay County has four different StoryWalk locations at some of our favorite local parks. Spring Park and Camp Chowenwaw Park in Green Cove Springs, Clarke House Park in Orange Park, and Rails to Trails Trailhead in Keystone Heights. All of these parks have parking available. Each StoryWalk consists of 20 posts that you follow on a path through the park. They are numbered, making it easy to find the beginning of the book.
The History of StoryWalks
The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. This project was created to encourage families to enjoy reading and the outdoors. StoryWalks can be found in 50 states and 12 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and South Korea. While there are only a few StoryWalks in North Florida at the present time, hopefully that will grow.
Read, Play, and Explore StoryWalks in North Florida
When picking new parks to explore in the area make sure to add one that has a StoryWalk! Pack a picnic and make a day of it. We recently revisited Chowenwaw and were pleasantly surprised to see that the story had changed. My daughters were excited to read the new story and participate in the activity prompts and questions along the walk.
Jillian Gishler is a New Englander at heart. Born in Jacksonville Beach, she grew up in Massachusetts but was beckoned back to Florida by Mickey Mouse for a Disney World Internship. She returned to the beach in 2005 after graduating from Florida State. Ten years ago she opened her handmade & vintage collective shop, Sew Vicious, in Neptune Beach. Jillian raises chickens, is a passionate gardener, a DIYer, a thrift store junkie, a deal loving mama, and has several inspirational travel journals available on Amazon. She leads her daughters Girl Scout Troop, teaches sewing at a local Montessori School, and is a Parents Who Lead Alumni. She loves surprising her husband and daughters with mini-vacations around the Sunshine State.