Bilingual Story Walks

We explore the origin of the StoryWalk® and how libraries around the country can take advantage of this immersive idea. Then, we offer bilingual book recommendations to include in your own StoryWalk®!

Origin of the StoryWalk®

In 2007, Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont, created the StoryWalk® Project. She wanted to promote, “early literacy, physical activity, and family time together in nature.” With the support of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, Anne was able to put this idea into motion. The StoryWalk® program involves taking pages from a children’s book and posting them around a park or nature area. By creating a short route to follow, families are able to explore nature and develop their children’s early literacy skills.

Since 2007, over 303 libraries around the country have implemented StoryWalk® programs. Another organization, The Children & Nature Network, created a model for Nature-Smart Libraries. They operate in a similar way, helping libraries connect their communities to nature via storytelling. 

Most recently, the City of Boston featured a few of Language Lizard’s bilingual books in their Multilingual StoryWalk®. The program ran from April 20th until May 10th and concluded with a giveaway. In fact, The Multilingual StoryWalk® was such a success that Boston hopes to have another one in the fall of 2021.

These programs are organized by community partnerships. In the case of Anne Ferguson, she was able to collaborate with the Vermont Arts Council and her local library. In Boston, the StoryWalk® resulted from the cooperation of both public and private organizations. If you are interested in putting together a StoryWalk®, consider connecting with state and local parks, schools, nature centers, child care centers, farmers markets, walking path promoters, special event promotions, and most of all, libraries.

Multicultural Children’s Books

Part of the reason why a StoryWalk® is successful has to do with the choice of book. According to Anne, these books must be elementary yet interesting, so families of all ages can engage in the activity. Books with simple language and beautiful illustrations ensure that you can fit a StoryWalk® into any busy schedule. 

In Boston, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department collaborated with the Boston Public Library and the Highland Street Foundation, the New England Patriots Foundation, and Xfinity to create their Multilingual StoryWalk®. This is an exciting expansion upon the traditional StoryWalk® program because it affirms the diverse communities within Boston. Multicultural families can enjoy nature walks while reading in their native language. Additionally, native English speakers can learn a new language. 

For this particular Multilingual StoryWalk®, Language Lizard provided bilingual stories in six different languages:

Augustus and His Smile

-Catherine Rayner

Augustus goes on a journey to find his lost smile, and discovers so much about the natural world: shiny insects, birds, mountains, fish, and even a rainstorm. This beautifully illustrated story celebrates a great connection to nature.

Let’s Go to the Park

-Kate Clynes

This multicultural board book lets young children explore the area in which they live. The bold illustrations show the people and animals they will meet, and objects that they will see and hear. The simple text is just right for young readers who are starting to recognize words. Here is a list for even more summer reading!

Errol’s Garden

-Gillian Hibbs

Errol loves gardening and has filled his home with beautiful plants, but he does not have a real garden. He dreams about an outdoor space where he can grow things. This story is a fantastic way to start a conversation about conservation.

Listen, Listen

-Phillis Gershator

This beautifully illustrated story explores the different seasons, and the amazing sights and sounds of nature. The effective use of rhyming, alliteration, and onomatopoeic words makes this book especially enjoyable to read aloud.

All these stories connect with nature while also exploring multicultural themes. Not only can families enjoy nature, but they can learn a new language at the same time!

Can you tell us about a successful StoryWalk® in your community? Have you spoken to your community partners about putting one together? Share your comments below!

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