Shrewsbury Library and Parks & Rec unveil fun for all ages with StoryWalk

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By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

(l to r) Sonja Drotar, Priya Rathnam, Angela Snell and Kevin

Shrewsbury – “What’s better than being outside and walking and reading?” inquired Kevin Esposito, Parks and Cemetery Division manager for Shrewsbury Parks & Recreation July 2 at the StoryWalk Project installation located at Lake Street Park.

They had planned to unveil the StoryWalk on opening day June 29 but were forced to cancel due to inclement weather.

The StoryWalk Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vt., and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

Esposito; Angela Snell, superintendent of Public Facilities & Parks; Priya Rathnam, director of the Shrewsbury Public Library; and Sonja Drotar, head of library children’s services gathered to see the project in action.

The installation is sponsored by the Friends of the Shrewsbury Public Library and is presented by the Shrewsbury Public Library and Shrewsbury Parks & Recreation.

“We’re excited to partner with Shrewsbury Parks & Recreation and bring StoryWalk to our community… Families can read a book while strolling along,” stated Rathnam.

The Yaseen family (l to r), Shumaile and Yaseen with Aalia, 6, and Zayn, 3

Families were already out and enjoying the installation which will run through Aug. 24 with stories changing every two weeks.

“We’ve been missing our patrons so very much,” noted Drotar upon seeing the families’ reactions to the walk.

“Angela and I had both been thinking of bringing StoryWalk to our community. When I broached the idea with Angela, she responded enthusiastically,” Rathnam remarked.

Snell commented: “I said, ‘Let’s do it’ because we are not doing indoor things so this is the perfect chance to have something for the community to do and be outside.”

She suggested the Lake Street Park path because it was accessible to everyone.

“We jumped at the chance to help out with this and we really look forward to changing it every couple of weeks,” Esposito shared.

Books were deconstructed and pages were laminated by library staff and staked along the paved path by Parks & Recreation staff. There are 30 stations along the 1/3-mile path.

Margaret Mulcahy and Amalia, 3

Drotar and the other children’s librarians selected four books that will be on display. Currently, the selection is “Duck on A Bike” by David Shannon. On July 13, “Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek” by Marianne Berkes will be installed, followed by “Stella, Fairy of the Forest” by Marie-Louise Gay on July 27. On August 10, the installation will conclude with “We Don’t Eat our Classmates” by Ryan T. Higgins.

“There is a nationwide initiative ‘Let’s Move in Libraries’ and they do a lot of outdoor programs for kids and adults and this is one of the most popular,” Rathnam explained. “I thought it would be a great project as it combines literacy and nature education. Encouraging families to go outdoors and take a stroll in our parks and trails is appropriate this summer as it’s an activity that can be done with social distancing and following other safety guidelines during COVID-19.”

Photos/Melanie Petrucci