Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Second Annual Summer Reading/Picture Book Walk Kickoff Event

Summer reading is in the air here in St. Charles County; despite my local school district still being in school until Friday (thanks, snow days!), we're off and running with our annual summer reading program.

For the second year in a row, my branch helped kicked things off through our partnership with St. Charles Parks & Recreation. This summer marks Year Two of our Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park, a local county park with a number of paved trails, one of which boasts 17 beautiful, handmade signs displaying the entirety of a picture book, spread by spread. For details on the "hows" of the project, check out my post on the topic from last summer.

This year, the book around the lake trail at Quail Ridge Park is the immaculately illustrated Berlioz the Bear, by Jan Brett. The introductory sign encourages wandering readers to pay special attention to what's going on in the illustrations around the edges; Brett is known for fitting intricate visual storytelling in every space of the page. While this book doesn't have as explicit a connection to nature as last year's choice (The Curious Garden by Peter Brown), I chose it for the walk because it invites leisurely reading. The buildup of the story, the visual interest, the climax of the story--they all lend to a relaxing stroll along the trail while enjoying a great book.

The library and parks department team up to put on a festive kickoff event in the lodge adjacent to the Picture Book Walk trail. After some introductory remarks at sign #1, as well as the option of "guided walks" (in which a library staffer or volunteer leads a group and reads from the pages), children and families are invited into the lodge for a range of activities. This year, we offered the following slate:
  • light refreshments of a cake (donated by Sam's Club) and cookies, along with plenty of water (all outdoor activities require continued hydration!)
  • summer reading signups for children, teens, and adults
  • a memory game involving matching overturned pictures of instruments (many corresponding to those played by Berlioz and his friends in the book)
  • summer reading tattoos
  • shaker instrument craft station (decorate and attach a colorful strip of paper to an empty plastic water bottle, use a funnel to add ½ cup rice, top the contents off with a pretty bead, and duct tape the whole thing shut; voila, recycled shaker!)
  • tree cookie necklace craft from the Parks Department (using wood from invasive cedar that has to be removed from the parks)
  • Parks Department information
  • St. Louis Lions soccer team information and ball drills with real players

These eight activity stations were ongoing throughout the two-hour event, with a special performance halfway through the kickoff by one of the park rangers. He shared and passed around a huge range of animal pelts of creatures indigenous to Missouri. Kids had a great time feeling the different furs and seeing the range of sizes of these animals. Most recognizable by far: the skunk.

I had teen library volunteers to help staff the library's activity stations, as well as some assistance from my colleague Miss Melanie at the summer reading signup station. The library could not have offered so many activities at the kickoff without their help.

In the course of the two-hour kickoff event, we shared reading and recreation with just over 200 people, mostly children and their families. We got tons of folks signed up for summer reading, and we generated a ton of excitement about returning to the park to experience the Picture Book Walk again. The Berlioz the Bear installation will be up for several months, hopefully giving every interested family a chance to experience it.

If you happen to be in the Wentzville, Missouri area this summer, I do hope you'll stop by!


  1. Amy,

    I am working on a establishing something similar for our library. Could you tell me about how much you spent on mounting the book pages and installing them?


    1. Sylvia, all of the wood for the mounts and stands was donated by the park district, as was the labor to put together the stands. The library foundation donated $400 to cover the cost of plexiglas and weather stripping to keep the pages dry. The only other costs were three copies of the chosen book, plus my time to take the book apart and laminate the pages.