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Story walk installed at Webster Park in Orono

The idea of the story walk at Webster Park is to encourage outdoor fun, while also getting kids excited to read.

ORONO, Maine — Parents looking for an educational way to spend a winter day with the kids now have access to a new story walk at Webster Park.

The Orono Public Library is permanently hosting a story in the park every season thanks to American Rescue Plan Act dollars that came through the Maine Public Library. Other donors who made the story walk happen are the Orono-Old Town Kiwanis and the Orono Masons.

The walk encourages families to enjoy a book as they walk from story panel to story panel. The main idea is to encourage outdoor fun, while also getting kids to read.

Youth services librarian Lindsay Varnum said there will be one new book each season. This years' selection is "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats.

"When we found out that everything would be ready to install in the winter, there really was no other book that we would want to choose. This is a classic, and it's just about the love of snow, which is perfect for Maine winters," she said.

Along with reading each page, there are also activities to get kids to participate as they walk or jump along.

"They are just a great way to have kids enjoy stories and also get some physical activity as well—those are two essential things for childhood," Varnum said.

The 17 panels stretch along the park for families to follow one by one.

Rachel Nichols brought her kids to the park Thursday morning. 

"Reading to your kids every day gives them the vocabulary, word recognition, [and] a way to explore things that are unknown to them," Nichols said.

Varnum said the push to get a story walk strengthened during the pandemic when the library was closed for an extended period of time.

"It's really great to have an opportunity to have kids enjoy a book in a safe outside way if families don't feel comfortable about coming to the library," Varnum added.

Varnum said the next book will be installed early in the spring.

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