Kimberly Vance-Lundsbye (right) of Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy leads a group of children around Centennial Park on May 12 as part of the region’s first storywalk. Laminated pages of a story book could be found on panels around the park leading readers on an adventure as they followed the story. Tara Sprickerhoff photo.

Storywalk combines nature and reading in South Cariboo

Activity promotes literacy in exciting way

Storytime and running around in a park aren’t normally two activities that go together.

Still, groups of children could be found running through Centennial Park on Friday, May 12, pausing every 20 metres or so to read a panel in front of them.

Each panel had a laminated copy of one page of the storybook Rough Day at Loon Lake — pictures and all.

The “story walk,” as it’s called, was organized by the Cariboo-Chilcotin Partners for Literacy.

Kimberly Vance- Lundsbye led a guided tour of the story through the rain on Friday morning.

“The point is to encourage early literacy skills, getting outside in nature, connecting with family, spending time reading with kids and it’s great for new readers too,” she says.

Vance-Lundsbye discovered the idea when she was on vacation on Salt Spring Island in March.

“I thought ‘Wow, that’s such a great idea’,” she says.

She did some research, secured funding, and plans on hosting the walks around the South Cariboo for the foreseeable future.

“It will be roaming around our region so as many families as possible have a chance to do it,” she says.

Each panel also includes an activity related to the story for children to do as they walk from one panel to the next.

Despite the rain, children could be seen hopping like rabbits, gazing at clouds, imitating their favourite animal, or searching for interesting things in the park.

“It gets kids thinking and moving and being active and engaging in conversation with their parents and the daycares,” she says. “But also it helps kids move quickly to the next sign and not get distracted and move off the course.”

The entire story walk, from beginning to end takes about half an hour to an hour, depending on how fast your walking and reading skills are.

The circuit is easy to follow, with signs pointing readers on to the next panel.

“I like that it brings reading, reading together and getting outside together,” says Vance-Lundsbye.

“It’s just a perfect blend of really healthy family activities and its such a great way to connect.”