backroads story boards

Public libraries have been closed or only partially open all summer due to Covid-19. That’s a problem for thousands of kids who enjoy hanging out at the library — reading, doing craft projects, attending events or using the computers.

Librarians have responded to that hole in children’s lives with lots of creative remedies. One of the solutions the librarians at the Great River Regional Library system, headquartered in St. Cloud, created in June is the Story Stroll.

“We’ve had Story Strolls in at least 18 of our libraries,” Ryan McCormick of GRRL said. “We’ll continue them as long as the weather permits.”

Story Strolls are copies of actual pages from very large format children’s books — mounted on stands like those used for political yard signs. 

“Libraries have them in parks or in the lawn outside the library,” McCormick explained. “I like the Story Strolls because they involve both adults and children involved in the healthy activity of walking and reading.”

In late August, a Story Stroll on the lawn at the Sauk Centre library was “Planting a Rainbow,” by Lois Ehlert.

“We put a new one up every week,” Dawn, a Sauk Centre librarian said. “We see a lot of people stopping to read them.”

The Story Stroll for the same week at the Long Prairie library was “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. The “Brown Bear” Story Stroll consists of 17 colorful panels, or pages. In Long Prairie, they are spaced out along the sidewalk in Harmony Park near the elementary school. The spacing allows the children to run or study the baby killdeers. Adults, who are their readers, can enjoy the flowers and a summer breeze as they stroll between panels. Each panel is a discovery — just like a book.

What does Brown Bear see? Oh! He sees a Red Bird. Walk or run to the next panel.  What does Red Bird see? She sees a Yellow Duck. Walk, run, look at the flowers until the team reaches Yellow Duck.

A child of a certain age and a certain adventuresome spirit might just reach the Yellow Duck first. 

“I see a Blue Horse looking at me,” the girl yells out at the top of her lungs as she practices her reading skills. Or, upon reaching the Blue Horse, you might yell together: “I see a green frog looking at me!”

How does this story end? You’ll have stroll over to your library to find out. The list of GRRL libraries is at griver.org. Call before going to be sure a Story Stroll is on display.