by: Nancy Kalikow Maxwell
Can’t decide if you should read or take a walk? No need to choose. Now you can do both at the same time, thanks to the Johnson County Library’s “Walk and Read Program.” While walking at Franklin Park from July 9 to July 18, you’ll be able to read two children’s books displayed along the sidewalk. Strolling in one direction, you’ll see the pages of the children’s book Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley mounted on successive posters. Reversing direction, you can peruse the pages of Rachel Bright and Jim Field’s book Koala Who Could.
Now in its seventh year, “Walk and Read” provides the library with an outdoor literary activity perfectly suited to reach patrons during the COVID pandemic. Originally launched as a single-weekend event, the program became so popular it was extended to the current span of nineteen weeks encompassing almost 20 local parks. The program is coordinated by the library’s Walk and Read team, whose members select the books, prepare the page storyboards, and select the park locations. Working with local park personnel, they then locate, mount, and remove the signs. “This has been the most time-intensive program I’ve worked on,” notes Johnson County Library’s Youth Information Specialist Hannah Jane Weber, “but also the most rewarding work I’ve ever done.”
“We have had people come into the library and tell us how much they enjoy it,” she says. “They have called us and sent in pictures of their kids enjoying it.”
Confirming this positive response, while the signs were being installed several Franklin Park-dwelling parents remarked about the program. “Cute.” “Cool.” And “a fun idea to have here at Prairie Village,” were overheard from those passing by.
Shawnee resident Emily Brandjord noted, “It’s a great way to get kids interested in reading.” Karen Warden of Kansas City said, “It’s nice that the library is trying to reach out to promote early literacy in this outdoor setting.”
I agree, and as a daily park-walker and avid reader, would add the benefit of getting to do both at once.