After five years and 16 books, the Storywalk program in Antioch Park will end with the same story that started it all.
Johnson County Library Early Literacy Coordinator Bradley Debrick announced recently that the next Storywalk will be the last at Antioch Park, and that the story to be featured will be Author Eric Litwin’s “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes,” which was also the first book featured when this program began in October 2013. Those panels are now in place in the park.
“We are celebrating five years of Storywalk by repeating the very first book,” Debrick said. “Kids who enjoyed the first Storywalk as preschoolers will see the book again with their more mature, school-age eyes while a brand new group of preschoolers may experience it for the first time.”
Storywalk consists of a series of panel signs that provide an interactive reading experience for children and their parents or caregivers. Each station contains two pages from a popular children’s book with a suggested activity or action rhyme. Storywalk is located along a walkway just south of Building A in Antioch Park. Each Storywalk book remains in place for roughly three months. Storywalk at Antioch Park has been a cooperative venture between the Johnson County Library and JCPRD.
“Pete is a relatable character who keeps walking along through life’s little messes,” he said. “The story pattern is predictable (good for kids learning to read), text placement changes from page to page emphasizing print awareness, and the bouncy rhythm of Pete’s song is contagious no matter how you sing it. It’s rare to find one book that so perfectly supports the pre-reading skills of our 6 by 6 Ready to Read initiative.”
Debrick said the Antioch Park Storywalk program is being discontinued after this book following the opening earlier this year of the new Monticello branch library near Kansas-7 Highway and Shawnee Mission Parkway in Shawnee.
“That library has a permanent 6 by 6 walk installed along the curved sidewalk in front of the building and we will concentrate our efforts to keeping those signs up-to-date,” he said.
The only time a Storywalk book wasn’t being displayed in Antioch Park over the past five years was in the winter of 2016 when the sign frames were temporarily removed for repair, strengthening, and repainting. Debrick said he believes the program made a difference.
“I know it surprised people,” he said. “Stumbling upon a reading component in an unexpected setting - especially one that is as well-loved as the Antioch Park playground - helps people blend the idea of active play with reading readiness. There may have been park visitors who were inspired to visit the library because of Storywalk. I know there were library visitors who went to the park when they found out a new Storywalk was posted. Additionally, I’m hopeful the adults who accompanied children around Storywalk picked up a few simple tips & tricks for making the most of the time they spend reading with their child.”
Just because Storywalk at Antioch Park is coming to an end in no way means that the Library is giving up on early literacy, he stressed.
“Our 6 by 6 Ready To Read initiative is celebrating its tenth anniversary next year (which means babies born when 6 by 6 began are in the fourth grade now!), and there will be numerous special events to mark the milestone,” Debrick said
is located at 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam.