Strolling with a story: Town, library officials work together to install new StoryWalk in McCordsville

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MCCORDSVILLE – Something new is up at Old School Park in McCordsville, combining the fresh air and exercise with reading a good book.

StoryWalk was installed this month at the park at the park, 6030W. 750N., McCordsville.

The pages of a children’s storybook has been placed in signs along a path leading to the playground in hopes that families will add a bit of literacy to their outdoor excursion.

Officials from the town of McCordsville and the Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library worked together to make their dream a reality, and hope to add a new story every month.

The idea started coming together when two people from the two entities sparked interest in the concept they saw in other communities.

StoryWalk is a program created by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vermont and other communities across the country have started making their own. Library Director Melissa Dragoo Loiselle and Niki Jones of the town of McCordsville both heard about the program and thought it would be a good fit for McCordsville.

“I first read about StoryWalks a few years ago and I loved the concept,” Loiselle said. “It encourages literacy, movement, being outdoors and spending time with family in a unique, creative way. Other local libraries have implemented StoryWalks, and I thought it would work well in our community. So when Niki reached out to discuss the possibility of partnering on a StoryWalk in McCordsville, I was immediately interested.”

The pieces all started falling into place. The town provided the park and the personnel to install the signs, and the library is providing the stories. Local businesses and families are encouraged to chip in to help pay for the signs; their names may be placed permanently on one of the boards.

Jones, McCordsville community outreach coordinator and a mom of two, was immediately thinking of other parents in the community striving to do meaningful activities with their children.

“I was thinking of the moms with younger kids, but it’s great for anybody to get outside with your family on the weekends and away from the ipads and phones a little bit,” she said.

The story on display now is “Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt” by Kate Messner with art by Christopher Silas Neal.

Loiselle worked with Katie Noonan, the content services librarian, to come up with a list of titles that will work well with the project.

“We wanted books with beautiful artwork and engaging text,” she said. “We plan to change the book each month, so we chose titles that would work with each season. We selected fiction and nonfiction titles that should appeal to a wide age range of children.”

The reaction from the community so far has been positive, said Jones, who also manages the town’s social media accounts. She said when she dropped photos of StoryWalk online, the post took off.

“We got a lot of likes and a lot of shares on that post,” she said.

Plans for the future include not only a new story every month, but possibly an expansion of the program. Jones said it may be incorporated with the new McCord Square. She’s also hoping for more people to step up and help sponsor the project for ongoing sign purchases and possibly more permanent signs.

Loiselle said she hopes StoryWalk encourages more people to head over to the library and pick out even more books.

“I love that this is a fun way for families to spend quality time together without spending any money,” she said. “I hope this activity will encourage people to spend time with their kids in nature, and then visit the library to check out books to read at home.”

To learn more about the project or sponsorships, call 317-335-5113 or email [email protected]

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