By Briana Bizier
With its long, golden afternoons and sunny, cooler weather, August is the perfect time to get the entire family outside. Now, thanks to the Raymond Village Library and a generous CARES grant from the Maine Humanities Council, a new StoryWalk in Raymond’s Community Garden ensures that even the littlest nature lovers can have an outdoor August adventure and read a book at the same time.
The concept of the StoryWalk was created by Anne Ferguson of
Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard
Library as a way to engage children and their parents in physical activity, to
enjoy the outdoors, and to appreciate a great story. To create a StoryWalk,
laminated pages from a children’s book are placed on numbered stakes along a
path or a trail. Families follow the trail while reading pages from the book.
A CARES grant from the Maine Humanities
Council has led to the creation of a StoryWalk
for children in Raymond's Community Garden.
PHOTO BY BRIANA BIZIER
Raymond Village Library’s new StoryWalk tells the familiar tale of Jack and the Beanstalk while guiding families through the Raymond Community Garden. Many of the StoryWalk’s signs, which were made by Raymond Village Library children’s librarian Karen Perry, contain both a page from a beautifully illustrated version of Jack and the Beanstalk and a child-friendly activity.
My little assistants enjoyed the cloud-gazing activity and watering the plants in the children’s garden, but their favorite was combing through the grass to find “gold” coins dropped by Jack as he ran to escape the giant. These coins can be returned to the Raymond Village Library.
“It was awesome!” said Sage Bizier, my almost-10-year-old assistant. “I really loved the illustrations and the gold coins. It incorporates basically the whole library into one outdoor place.”
“I liked that they allow you to water the plants,” 6-year-old Ian Bizier added. “Isn’t that just a nice touch?”
Another treasure hiding in the Raymond Community Garden are bright pink spoons and spatulas marking rows of vegetables that community garden growers are raising for the Raymond Food Pantry. Just be sure to restrain your little vegetable enthusiast from picking food destined for the food pantry or the tables of the community garden’s members.
Funding for this new StoryWalk came from the Maine Humanities Council as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. With the coronavirus barring access to Raymond Village Library’s traditional children’s summer programming, such as story time and weekly crafts, this grant allowed the library to create alternative, outdoor programming for its youngest patrons. The StoryWalk is open to the public every day, making it a perfect choice for parents looking to entertain cooped-up children while practicing responsible social distancing.
The StoryWalk begins beside the parking lot of the Raymond Village Library at 3 Meadow Road in Raymond. A clearly labeled path begins among the towering sunflowers and sprawling strawberries of the children’s garden before continuing up a slight hill to wind its way through the entire Raymond Community Garden. The StoryWalk ends at the Raymond Community Garden’s Reading Room, an open-air wooden gazebo built by High Wire Hydroponics. This outdoor Reading Room is the perfect place to relax in the shade after exploring the garden with Jack and the Beanstalk.
Exploring the Raymond Village Library StoryWalk and participating in all the activities takes about an hour. The Community Garden is in full sun and can get hot, so this activity might be best reserved for mornings or cloudy days. <