The occasional jogger or dog-walker slides past to the sound of rushing Bowker Creek, and the giggle of small voices as Jessica Woollard leads a handful of small children on a Story Walk.
Pat le Chat pages hang from ribbons along the rails of the trail, and the group follows the cat, in French in this book, and its story as they walk the path.
Greater Victoria Public Library introduced the StoryWalk collection earlier this year. StoryWalk was created as a tool for families, caregivers and educators to use with young children to promote literacy, learning and outdoor play. Individual pages of an illustrated storybook are placed outdoors in a circuit. Children follow the story by visiting each page in sequence.
“The StoryWalk program combines stories with a walk outside, what can be better than that? It was started in the United States and we’ve incorporated it to GVPL and you can borrow these story walk kits for your very own story walks,” said Joy Huebert, public services librarian at the Oak Bay branch of the Greater Victoria Public Library. “It supports family literacy, like the pleasures of reading, writing, talking, singing and playing with physical literacy, and we all need more exercise.”
Nicole Alexander, of Nicole’s Family Daycare where Woollard found her young readers for the Bowker walk, was on the lookout for StoryWalk tools for her educational kit since seeing a workshop on the West Shore.
“It’s so much fun, it’s a great way to add literacy and outdoors, two things we want kids to do,” Alexander said.
GVPL’s StoryWalk collection includes 30 books including popular titles such as The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, as well as three French titles.
“We know that early literacy skills are important to a child’s success in school and later in life,” said Maureen Sawa, GVPL CEO. “Informal learning happens in everyday situations in which children have positive encounters with words and reading. The StoryWalk collection is another way that libraries support lifelong learning for families.”
Visit gvpl.ca or the Oak Bay branch at 1442 Monterey Ave. to learn more.