The Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library has joined the growing list of Almaguin communities that have introduced a Story Walk Project in their respective municipalities this summer.
The Story Walk Project is the brainchild of American Anne Ferguson of Vermont.
In 2007, she came up with the idea of taking pages from children's books, laminating them and attaching them to stakes.
The stakes and pages are then pushed in the ground at a site, such as a public park, and spread several feet apart to encourage a little family exercise.
The idea is parents take their little ones to the park and, in addition to reading them a story, they also take in some fresh air and walking.
In Sundridge, the local library has put in place the book, 'The Thing Lou Couldn't Do,' by Canadian author Ashley Spires.
Lou and her friends are adventurers but one day, when one of her playmates suggests climbing a tree and pretending it's a pirate ship, Lou comes up with excuse after excuse for not wanting to climb the tree.
The book is made up of 17 panels, which are on display at Lion's Park.
Unlike the Story Walk projects currently underway in Powassan and South River, where the libraries purchased the books they have on display, the Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library received its project book under the TD Summer Reading Club program.
The program has been around for more than 20 years, with the goal of making reading fun for children.
This is the first summer it has offered the Story Walk Project, which it made available to more than 550 libraries across Canada.
Sundridge-Strong Union Public Library chief executive officer and head librarian Melinda Kent said when the reading club told its more than 2,200 library partners it was planning a Story Walk Project, but only so many books would be available, she replied quickly saying the local library wanted in.
“It was a first come, first served basis,” Kent said.
As a very small library, Kent said the library jumps at opportunities to get material from the TD Summer Reading Club because the material is always free, including the panels that make up this year's Story Walk Project.
To make sure the panels last, the reading club had the information from the book pre-printed on corrugated plastic and put on stands.
The panels arrived in a large box and the only thing the library staff had to do was put the stands in the ground.
Kent said the panels will be up at Lion's Park until Sept. 6 and her hope is the project can be repeated year after year.
She said the public is enjoying the addition to Lion's Park, with people leaving comments on the library's Facebook page.
Kent spoke highly of the TD Summer Reading Club program, which sends plenty of material each year to the library to help teach young children about the benefits of reading.
Kent said normally the library interior is a very busy place. Although COVID-19 has put limits on public entry, that hasn't stopped the library from engaging with kids through online activities.
She said one weekly activity involves getting children to visit the local Facebook page where they participate in a craft.
Then there's online Bingo, but with a twist. Kent said the game calls for young children to read a book with a blue cover, while another instruction asks them to read a book about an animal, and so on.
When the kids carry out enough instructions on what to read and fill a line on the Bingo card, they bring it to the library and are rewarded with a Freezie.
Kent also adds their names to a draw for a prize to be awarded at the end of the summer.
Because the library works with limited funds, in addition to getting help from the TD Summer Reading Club program, it also depends on fundraising to help buy library material.
Kent said one of those fundraisers is a book sale this week.
To prepare for the upcoming sale, Sundridge and area residents have been donating books the library can sell to the general public.
The book sale takes place in the parking lot of the local Foodland parking lot Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The library and Zion United Church will share the sales that are made.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget