NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> A Bucks County librarian is spreading the joy of reading in her neighborhood with a Story Stroll that is giving children and parents an enjoyable distraction from COVID-19.
Elizabeth Griswold, the outreach coordinator at the Southampton Free Library, originally set up the stroll at Tamanend Park. However, when the park was closed by the township, she relocated the storyboards to her corner property in the Woods of Saxony.
“I saw kids posting chalk pictures of rainbows and messages on their driveways. So I thought, the Stroll is sitting in my car. Why don’t I share that with the neighborhood? I live on a corner, so I wrapped it around my corner,” she said.
In the two short days that it’s been up, it’s been a big hit, said Griswold, who debuted the series of 16 storyboards on April 1. Since then it’s become a community “must see” with parents and young children hopping by to read the story, “What Does Bunny See?”
“In our FaceBook Group I had one mom write that she went through three times on the first day. I had another mom send me pictures of her little girl hopping like a bunny,” said Griswold.
That makes it all worth it, said the librarian. “There is still some joy to spread. And if just doing this helps a little, I’m happy to do it.”
The 32-page children’s picture book, with sprightly verses written by Linda Sue Park and cheerful illustrations by Maggie Smith, is about a rabbit who explores a garden, finding flowers of every color, before hopping home for a nap and dreams of rainbows.
Throughout the story, rhyming clues invite the reader to answer the question: “What does bunny see?”
The storyboard is one of 10 created by the library two years ago as part of its community outreach program. The boards can typically be found during the warmer weather months stretched out along trails and in public parks and open areas in Lower Southampton.
“The library uses this all the time. The problem right now is there are no parks I can get them into right now,” said Griswold. “So I thought this would be perfect for right now.”
In addition to reading the story, Griswold added an interactive element to the sidewalk reading experience to make it more fun.
On one of the lamented pages, for example, she asks, “Can you hop like a bunny?” Other pages ask questions like, “Can you see something orange?” or “Can you name a pink animal?”
“I had somebody tell me they’ve already gone through it multiple times so I promised them that I would change the story next week,” she said with a laugh.
Griswold isn’t revealing which story is next. “They’ll have to walk by to see ... and to read.
“It’s just to get kids out so they are not constantly on their screens,” said Griswold. “Yes, you do need to stay home. But you can walk through your neighborhood keeping in mind social distancing. It’s just a little change up from the regular routine. It’s something to do while walking the dog or stretching your legs.”
Griswold also reminds everyone that the public can access the Bucks County Free Library system online. All you need is your library card number to open up a world of information, movies, music, videos, ebooks and online storytimes.
“We’ve posted about Math Walks that you can do when you’re outside, like counting license plates and how many different numbers you see,” said Griswold. “You can also learn how to make a mask.”
For more information, visit BucksLib.org or southamptonfreelibrary.org. You will need your library card number to access services or you can register for an e-card under the services tab in the drop down menu.