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Word's Eye View: StoryWalks at BNRC Reserves

Posted Monday, May 3, 2021

If you’ve walked at Thomas & Palmer Brook or Housatonic Flats in the last year, you may have noticed children exploring the trails with a new sense of excitement and discovery as they follow signposts with pages from children’s books about nature.

StoryWalks® present an innovative approach to encouraging people of all ages to get out and walk while enjoying engaging children’s books. Pages of a children’s book become stops along a family-friendly trail. As you walk, you can read the book one page at a time, all while enjoying being in nature. This activity provides readers with a new way to see, learn, and experience the outdoors. Since March of 2020, BNRC has installed ten StoryWalks®, with each book featuring an environmental theme.

Naturalist Mary Holland writes many of the books that BNRC has offered. Her children’s books Animal Mouths, Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer, Otis the Owl, and Animal Tracks and Traces use real photos to tell educational stories about local wildlife. She also has many books translated into Spanish, which is an important addition to these family-friendly walks.

In November 2020, the book Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington was on display at Thomas & Palmer Brook reserve in Great Barrington. When the StoryWalk® was removed, BNRC staff discovered that someone had made the effort of translating much of the book into Spanish on a sheet of paper in the brochure holder. This effort reinforced the need for more diversity, equity, and inclusion in StoryWalk® offerings.

To address this need, in February 2021, BNRC partnered with Berkshire Family Hikes, Berkshires Macaroni Kid, and the City of Pittsfield to offer an English and Spanish StoryWalk® at Wild Acres Conservation Area as part of the 10x10 Upstreet Winter Arts Festival, and BNRC will continue to offer StoryWalks® in Spanish and English throughout the year.