Lauren Crum was raised to respect books, so it’s no surprise that cutting the pages out of five kids tomes did not come easy for the White Rock mom.
“It just goes against everything I was taught,” Crum said, of taking scissors to a handful of children’s books recently.
Keeping a larger goal in mind, however, Crum persevered, ultimately transforming five stories into kits she and fellow READ Surrey-White Rock Society official Shanti Ang hope will encourage steps – quite literally – to improve children’s literacy.
“We wanted to expand our programs to reach more families,” Crum explained, of READ’s decision to create StoryWalk kits that can be borrowed by sundry community groups.
Such kits are the brainchild of Vermont-based Anne Ferguson. Each includes laminated pages of a children’s book that can be hung or staked along a path or other community route, with each page directing followers to the next, often encouraging a physical activity that can be completed along the way.
In short, they’re self-guided opportunities for reading, exercise and fun that can be used either outside or indoors.
“I just think it’s the most adorable, amazing initiative,” said Crum, who is the society’s Read With Kids co-ordinator.
Ang – READ’s literacy outreach co-ordinator – said StoryWalks “really took off” during the pandemic, and led to the idea of creating a lendable kit landing on the society’s radar.
It is the organization’s first time offering the kits. White Rock Rotary Club has partnered on one; the society also received funding through Post Media’s Raise-a-Reader program.
Ang noted similar initiatives already dot the community, including Poetry in Motion, which launched last fall in White Rock as a partnership between the city and Fraser Health to encourage active living for older adults.
“Its purpose is to reduce social isolation by increasing connectedness while providing opportunities for physical activity,” Coun. Michele Partridge said, during the Sept. 20, 2023 unveiling at Maccaud Park.
“It hopes to establish a sense of place and builds up opportunities for residents and visitors to connect with the spaces they live in.”
White Rock Library has hosted indoor StoryWalks “for years,” Crum added.
The five stories currently available through READ Surrey-White Rock are The Sandwich Swap by Queen Rabi Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio; What Matters (by Allison Hughes and Holly Hatam); Sherry McMillan’s What the Seal Saw; The Wild Side by Nicholas Oldland; and, If Instead of a Person by Courtney Defriend.
The books were purchased from local bookstores. Three copies of each are required to complete one kit; two to create a full set of laminated pages, and a third to ensure the pages are kept in order.
Ang and Crum said they “can’t wait” to see the kits in use and hear feedback from those who borrow them.
“We just really want organizations to borrow them and get reading,” said Ang.
To reserve a story kit, or for more information on READ’s literacy programs – including its one-to-one tutoring program for adults – email firstname.lastname@example.org