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Spotlight: Story Walk PDF Print E-mail

Take a Hike!Storywalk 3
By Nancy Kellner and MaryEllen Remillard

It all started while walking the dog. MaryEllen Remillard, library teacher at the Zeh School in Northborough, found a story in the woods. No, not the inspiration for a story, an actual story. Walking on the Rail Trail in West Boylston, she came upon the pages of a book, mounted on stakes planted along the trail. She later discovered that she had stumbled upon a StoryWalk™, a project that originated in Vermont and has since been trademarked. The concept was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Vermont Bicycle & Pedestrian Coalition Storywalkand the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.   

Later that same year, MaryEllen attended a summer workshop to fight childhood obesity. Inspired by the idea of combining fitness and literacy she submitted and won a Corridor Nine Chamber of Commerce grant to create StoryWalks™ for her school and community. In the 2010-2011 academic year she created three walks which were planted both on a popular Northborough trail, at Mt. Pisgah, and on her school grounds. She later shared her passion about this project at a district librarian’s meeting.

Meanwhile, Nancy Kellner, Library Teacher at the Peaslee School in Northborough and an avid hiker, was out on the trails herself with a friend from Vermont who started talking about her own StoryWalks™. Remembering MaryEllen’s enthusiasm, she decided that she wanted to be a part of the project. This past summer, they approached the Children’s librarian at the Northborough Free Library, Laura Brennan. Laura was equally excited and the Northborough StoryWalk™ project was born.

Michael Covino, on the Storywalk Fall 2011

So, just what is a StoryWalk™? According to the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition it is “an exciting initiative that combines a children’s story with a popular walking route...(one) selects a children’s book, separates the pages, laminates them, and attaches them to stakes. (One) then drives the stakes into the ground at regular intervals along paths so readers can follow the story as they walk the route. (It was conceived) as a way to inspire parents, teachers, and caregivers to take young children on a short stroll that will be fun for all. StoryWalk™ helps build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy outdoor activity for both adults and children.”

Michael Covino on the Storywalk, Fall 2011Northborough has since hosted two community-wide StoryWalks™. Unlike the previous walks, which were school-sponsored outings, these new walks were made available for an extended period of time so that individuals, families and small groups could visit them on their own.

The first was posted on the Stirrup Brook Trail. Perfect for a pre-Halloween walk in the woods, it featured the book, The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. When this walk was dismantled, it was “recycled” at both the Peaslee School and Zeh School (so that classes could visit) and also for the benefit of a local preschool. 

The winter offering was placed on the Proctor Trail at the Edmund Hill trails system. Northborough Storywalk Fall 2011Although we haven’t yet had winter snow on the ground (Snowtober not withstanding!), this season’s selection, The Biggest Snowman Ever was a resounding success and has been extended beyond its planned time to remain available until the end of the year. 

Based on feedback, we plan to offer StoryWalks™ seasonally, varying the trails and locations. We are also considering creating a walk specifically for our active Senior Citizens, many of whom walk the Northborough trails regularly.


For more information contact:
MaryEllen at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
or Nancy at This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
or visit



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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 January 2012 )

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