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Take a Story Walk, eh?

Storywalk Cards from Norfolk Public Library

Storywalk Cards have a velcro back and can be attached to stakes.

One great way to learn how to read is from picking text out of the environment.   Literacy rich environments encourage children to make meaning from printed words around them.  Recently, we attended the local Library Showcase and learned about StoryWalks.  StoryWalks are a fun way to bring books to life by exploring a storybook world in a real space.  These “StoryWalks” feature popular children’s storybooks separated into glossy pages to be found throughout a physical space. You  read a page, then walk and read some more. This encourages literacy exploration, and children learn how to seek out text in the environment. You might also end up reading road signs, public notices, or other print encountered by happenstance.

Storywalk Bag

Your StoryWalk will arrive in a neat bag, and you can either velcro them to walls or attach them to stakes.

As you walk around,  ask children to point out similar features matching the book to your physical location. “Do you see a pine tree that he could be hiding in?” “Could this be the hunny tree from the Hundred Acre Wood?” “Did you hear that bird, sounded like he was giving us a clue?”  Adults can also help children decode the words at each marker, or ask about the plot. “What do you think will happen next?”  Point to the words and let them fill in words you think they might know. “Corduroy waited for…– let’s sound it out– what letter is this and what does it sound like?”   Pretend to be looking for clues to the next part of the story. Remember to use your stage voice when reading aloud.

You can find more resources to download StoryWalks here:

  • http://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/storywalk
  • https://www.kellogghubbard.org/storywalk
  • https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/0f622b_fa5c4096972d49a9ae03dd3dd01cff00.pdf   – There’s also a guide on making your own story walks here.

Children 3 and up will enjoy this activity, but we think the whole family can join in. Once children learn to recognize words in their environment, you might find going out even more fun. On a recent trip to the supermarket, a five-year-old was pointing at all the signs that she could suddenly read.  It is empowering when young children realize that people can get information from print in the environment.

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Suprising Perceptions on Parenting and Literacy

I recently attended a community engagement event hosted by the City Department of Human Service. It was a presentation to parents about storytelling. The purpose was to educate parents about the importance of storytelling to one’s children. There were only 6 people in attendance, two with children. I was surprised at how few people there were. At least there were six, I thought.
As we practiced telling stories, I heard some parents complain about not having time to tell stories to their children daily. We’re not talking about reading here, we’re talking about TALKING. The parents in general seemed well educated. I was then astounded that these parents didn’t seem to feel that talking to their children and telling stories was something that they should do often.
Then the jawdropper… One parent, with 3 academic degrees, said, “I don’t want to teach her how to read, she can learn it in school. I’m not qualified to do that. She should just be playing now.” Her child was maybe 3 years old. She was not convinced that teaching her child to read early, or working on early literacy skills was important. She thought it would take time away from play. Looking at the statistics on literacy from the Education statistics from the US Government, it seems that 97% of all children show up in Kindergarten without any idea what literacy is.
I do not have any peers who did not know how to read a single word when they started kindergarten. Maybe some perceptions that can be changed are:
Why not think of reading as play? Why do parents feel they cannot teach their children? Why should parents trust schools to teach the MOST IMPORTANT SKILL, which teaches your child to become an independent thinker? Anyone else think that family (parents) are the best able to teach their children reading AND storytelling?