Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Take a (story) walk along Central in Faribault September 2, 2020

 

A page from Eric Carle’s book, From Head to Toe, photographed inside a StoryWalk display case.

 

“I can do it!” What an empowering statement, especially for young children. Those four words refrain in an installment of pages from the children’s picture book, From Head to Toe, now posted on street corners in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.

 

Posted next to Burkhartzmeyer Shoes and looking down a side street off Central.

 

I love this latest addition to my community as part of a StoryWalk® CENTRAL project coordinated locally by Buckham Memorial Library. The idea is rooted in Vermont and seems to be a trend right now in the library world. River Bend Nature Center in Faribault and the public library in neighboring Northfield are hosting similar story walks.

 

Looking north on Central Avenue, you can see one of the StoryWalk pages posted next to an historic-themed bench.

 

Last week one evening, Randy and I walked Central Avenue with our four-year-old granddaughter, viewing the colorful story crafted by noted author and illustrator Eric Carle. He is perhaps best-known for his children’s picture book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’ve long been a fan of Carle’s creativity. He understands how to connect with the littlest of people through colorful illustrations and simple, repetitive and engaging language.

 

Historic Central Avenue provides the backdrop for StoryWalk CENTRAL.

 

Bold colors and strong shapes define Carle’s art.

 

The book engages.

 

It took Isabelle a bit to get into From Head to Toe. But when she observed Grandma and Grandpa wriggling their hips like crocodiles, bending their necks like giraffes and stomping their feet like elephants, she joined in. Carle’s book calls for the reader and listener to actively participate in the book by doing the actions associated with each animal. It’s a great way to get kids up and moving. Adults, too.

 

The thoughts behind StoryWalk.

 

And that, according to information posted on one of the 12 signs, is part of the motivation behind the interactive StoryWalk® concept. The book “combines early literacy learning, family engagement and physical activity.” And promotes brain growth and physical health through exercise.

 

The animals lead the action.

 

The book also highlights diversity in the different ethnicities of the children and in the different animals Carle has created in his story. I especially appreciate that in our diverse community of Faribault. Buckham Memorial Library Director Delane James echoes my thoughts, praising From Head to Toe as a book that “resonates with everybody in the community…anyone can enjoy it no matter who they are.” And that means even those who can’t read or whose native language is one other than English. Like me, she calls Carle’s book “empowering.”

There are plans for more, and longer, book installations, all funded by a federal grant and coordinated with multiple city departments, James says. She noted the joint efforts of library, economic development, engineering and public works staff in getting the first StoryWalk® CENTRAL in place. From Head to Toe will remain posted for several months. This will be an ongoing and evolving public art and literacy project with five years worth of books included in the funding. The library buys multiple copies of the featured books, then removes and laminates the pages for posting in the weather-proof display cases.

 

The 12th, and final, story board is located outside the entry to Buckham Memorial Library. This is looking north toward Central Avenue. The final board is designed to get kids and others inside the library, although the library is currently open by appointment only.

 

I appreciate, in this time of a global pandemic, a safe activity I can do with my granddaughter when she’s visiting. Only after we arrived home did Izzy share, “That’s Isaac’s favorite book.” That means we’ll be back on Central with her 20-month-old brother, wriggling our hips, bending our necks, stomping our feet and repeating, “I can do it!”

 

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

12 Responses to “Take a (story) walk along Central in Faribault”

  1. What FUN!!! Yes, please – good for all ages too. This made my day and put a smile on my face 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Day – Enjoy

  2. What a fun activity for kids as well as adults. It makes me glad to see these kinds of things during a time when we need creativity and adventure. You and Randy are such fun Grandparents 🙂

    • I think that’s why I appreciate this StoryWalk so much. It’s something we can safely do during this pandemic when choices are so limited. We try to have fun with Izzy and Isaac. I especially like showing them the simple things that bring joy. Like gathering fallen leaves from the lawn. Looking at the moon and stars. Baking cookies. Reading books. All the activities I’m sure you’ve also enjoyed with your sweet grands.

  3. valeriebollinger Says:

    I’m happy to know the exhibit will be on display for awhile. I will check it out. A great idea!

  4. Maureen Gunderson Says:

    What a fun exhibit! Great idea ! You may enjoy our new exhibit up until Oct 10 . Yvonne Corey “ The Apron Lady “ has a great collection of one of a kind aprons she has created!
    I think you will enjoy it!
    Maureen
    Montgomery Arts and Heritage Center

    • Maureen, I actually was in Montgomery on Saturday, passing through, and stopped at the Arts & Heritage Center to see the apron exhibit. But the center wasn’t open. Instead, I chatted with Corey next door. I will try to get back before the show closes because I know I would enjoy seeing this collection. Thank you for the suggestion.

  5. What a great idea. I recognized the author by the illustrations immediately. I miss reading them to my kids. Perhaps my dog would like to be read to?

  6. Ruth Says:

    So creative. Thanks for taking me along.


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