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The Monroe City Library will be adding a new opportunity to promote early childhood literacy in the community. Librarian Karen Seward, addressed the Board of Alderman on August 22, asking for the City’s help to make this new program a success. The name of the program is called StoryWalk, which has been created to encourage early learning through reading with a combination of physical activity.

Seward stated, “I would like to have a StoryWalk placed at Founder’s Park. The project has already been approved by the park board, but I would like for the city to provide the labor and concrete to install the 2-foot poles needed to display the storybooks.” Discussion continued, explaining the books would change each month for the community to enjoy and stories would be targeted for children aged from birth through third grade.

The board of alderman made a motion with all in favor to approve the City to provide labor and concrete for the Library Project which would cost $200. Seward stated, “I would like for this to begin in May of next year. The storybooks displayed will be available for the community to check out for use at events after they have been used for the walk.”

StoryWalk combines the pleasures of reading wonderful children’s books aloud with all the joys and benefits of walking together outdoors. StoryWalk is a fun, educational activity that places the pages from a children’s story along a popular walking route in your community. Conceived as a way to inspire parents, teachers, and other adults to take young children outdoors to enjoy reading stories together, StoryWalk helps build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity for both children and their grown-ups.

StoryWalk was created by Anne Ferguson in Montpelier, Vermont, when she worked for the Vermont Department of Health. Anne was thinking about ways to prevent or lessen the impact of chronic disease on adults and children by increasing physical activity. She wanted to find something that was fun for families to do together in natural settings. Ferguson has trained educators, librarians, and others to do StoryWalk projects in forty-seven states and in Germany, Canada, England, and Bermuda.

Early literacy is what children know about reading and writing before they actually learn to read or write. Early literacy builds the foundation for mature literacy (learning about all print forms of language and using them to communicate). Without basic literacy skills, children can quickly fall behind the learning curve, leading to low academic success, which has a negative impact on long-term outcomes.

Early language and literacy (reading and writing) development begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child’s earliest experiences with books and stories. The interactions that young children have with such literacy materials as books, paper, and crayons, and with the adults in their lives are the building blocks for language, reading and writing development. This relatively new understanding of early literacy development complements the current research supporting the critical role of early experiences in shaping brain development.

Recent research supports an interactive and experiential process of learning spoken and written language skills that begins in early infancy. We now know that children gain significant knowledge of language, reading, and writing long before they enter school. Children learn to talk, read, and write through such social literacy experiences as adults or older children interacting with them using books and other literacy materials, including magazines, markers, and paper.

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