A county-wide reading adventure: Kiowa County towns welcome StoryWalk

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GREENSBURG, Kan. (KSNW) – Reading, walking, and spending time with family. In Kiowa County, communities are joining forces, turning the page on the old style of reading to children — taking reading outside the walls of the library to the outdoors.

The Kiowa County K-State Research and Extension Center teamed up with the Kiowa County Library to construct a permanent countywide reading adventure. It’s called StoryWalk. It was originally created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, VT, and developed in collaboration with Kellogg-Hubbard Library. It has grown in popularity across the country and world.

It’s a journey of walking while reading. A children’s book is taken apart and displayed page by page in boxes along a set route.

The idea of bringing StoryWalk to Kiowa County came after Mindy Heinson saw another version of the initiative in a nearby county. “I thought we can do this, and we can do this bigger and better, and we did. We were very fortunate,” said Mindy Heinson with K-State Research and Extension.

The StoryWalk in Kiowa County initially started in Greensburg and story pages were posted on local business windows. But now, stories are displayed at the defining places of county towns. In Haviland, the walk is located at the baseball field, in Mullinville, it is at Washington Park, and in Greensburg, the walk takes readers down Main Street.

“It’s so crucial at such a young age to get them engaged in reading and you know just being active,” said Kelly Askew with the Kiowa County Library.

The initiative has been backed by the community. Thousands of dollars in grants and donations have helped fund the project, and the boxes were hand-built by local craftsman, Peter Kern.

“It’s great that people in the community are really responding well to this,” said Heinson.

Each town has a different story and every month a new book will be on display. “You can do it on your own time. There’s not a start and a stop time. It’s when you want to go out spend time with your family reading, you go out and spend time with your family reading,” said Heinson.

At the end of each walk, there’s a set of discussion questions that help children build communication, memory, and analytical skills.“It just really allows them to dream and to see you know what ideas they can come up with just from a story,” said Askew.

For many in Kiowa County, it’s a boost to the local communities. “I love it. Literacy and then being able to add walking and spending family time, very much warms my heart,” said Heinson.

Check out hashtag StoryWalk Kiowa County [#StoryWalkKiowaCounty] on Facebook to see images and updates from participants.

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