The Model of Forward Expansion: StoryWalk® (Assignment X)

Stephens, M. (2019) Picture of a StoryWalk® featuring the book Pete the Cat. Image snipped and copied on February 16, 2023, from

Throughout these past few weeks, we have been learning about the foundational aspects of the hyperlinked library, from Web 2.0 to our current reading of articles related to participatory service and transparency. Several ideas and concepts have been covered in these modules, all of which emphasize new and exciting ways of getting people to come and explore the library.

One of the many ideas that Michael Stephens talked about in Modular 3—The Hyperlinked Library Model that caught my attention was the “take a walk, read a book” (Stephens, 2019, 34:56) event that the Johnson County Park and Recreation District had hosted. I had seen something like this just a few weeks ago at the Morgan Hill Library, where several pages from a children’s book were placed on signs and scattered throughout the small park next to it.

Curious, I decided to do some checking online and discovered that it was called a StoryWalk®, an “innovative and delightful way for children — and adults! — to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time” (Bridger, 2019, para. 1). The idea behind this activity is straightforward: pages from a children’s book are printed and laminated before they are either hung or posted along a trail outside the library. As the library users walked along the trail, they would stop and read each page before continuing down the path until they reached the end.

The idea for this activity was created in 2007 by Anne Ferguson, who sought “to create something different, fun, and interesting” (Ferguson, 2017, para. 2) that would help prevent chronic disease in Montpelier, Vermont. Knowing that one of the best ways to prevent chronic disease was by doing a physical activity, Ferguson came up with the idea for children and their parents to walk along a pathway while reading a book that contained “minimal text that would appeal to all ages…and that could fit into families’ busy schedules” (Ferguson, 2017, para. 3). After contacting the Vermont Arts Council, she received funding to try out her idea in a local park near Kellogg-Hubbard Library, placing laminated pages of David Ezra Stein’s Leaves on a path with a notebook for feedback at the end of the trail. Ultimately, her StoryWalk® idea proved to be both popular and successful.

Now, almost twenty years after she first came up with the idea, Ferguson’s StoryWalk® idea is being used by libraries not only in the United States but in thirteen other countries, including “Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea” (Bridger, 2019, para. 1). And not just for children’s books either. According to Lenstra (2020), “As the project developed, different libraries have taken the concept of the StoryWalk and spun it in all kinds of different directions. Some StoryWalk programs focus on adult readers” (para. 4)—though I imagine that they are probably using novellas or something just as short; can you imagine doing a StoryWalk® for a book like Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace? Yikes!

Anne Ferguson, the creator of the idea, has used her StoryWalk® for the PoemCity program at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, using poems from writers like Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver and creating custom artwork to go along “each line of each poem… From there we coupled a line from each poem with an art work, laminated it and posted them” (Lenstra, 2020, para. 5).

Since learning about the idea, my mind has been buzzing with potential ideas for setting up a StoryWalk® in Gilroy. I could try and convince them to host a program in Christmas Hill Park, which has several paths that take people through the natural hillsides and surrounding forests. Alternatively, maybe I could do as the people in Massachusetts did, have a “downtown StoryWalk®” (Lenstra, 2020, para. 9) where businesses could hang poems or book pages in their store windows and lead people on a merry walk throughout the city until they reach the final page at the library.

My final idea, while not in Gilroy itself, could also work: hosting a StoryWalk® at the Harvey Bear Ranch County Park. Not on the main trails—which are over 30 miles in length (though that would certainly make for quite the StoryWalk®!)—but on the smaller, two-and-a-half-mile circuit. Using this trail for a  StoryWalk® would allow the library to set up multiple books on the trail, or perhaps a longer book for more older children and adults, while also getting participants of the program to exercise at least one hour a day.

As future librarians and information professionals, it is our job to provide information to people—but who says it has to just be within a library? Like Professor Stephens wrote in his book, “The library is everywhere—it is not just the building or virtual spaces” (Stephens, 2016, p. 2). With ideas such as the StoryWalk®, I can encourage current and potential users to go outside and read a story while walking. This activity would benefit the users because they get some exercise, develop their minds, and encourage their interest in reading and perhaps artwork. As a future librarian, this concept/idea would help the people within my community and encourage them to visit the library more often.


Bridger, D. (2019). Storywalker. Beaten Track Publishing.

Ferguson, A. (2017). The storywalk® project.

Lenstra, N. (2020, August 11). Take a storywalk through downtown with the library. WebJunction.

Stephens, M. (2016). The heart of librarianship: Attentive, positive, and purposeful change. American Library Association.

Stephens, M. (2019). Hyperlinked library model [Video]. Panopto.

One thought on “The Model of Forward Expansion: StoryWalk® (Assignment X)”

  1. Thank you for looking into the history of the StoryWalk! I didn’t know anything about the creation of it and who was behind it. Such great additional research and excellent deep dive.

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