“PopUp StoryWalk” combines reading with hiking for family-friendly adventures in parks on the Eastside of Seattle. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

“PopUp StoryWalk” combines reading with hiking for family-friendly adventures in parks on the Eastside of Seattle. Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

‘PopUp Storywalk’ blends books, nature in Kirkland

The program combines the joy of reading with the beauty of the great outdoors.

PopUp StoryWalk, a local literacy effort aimed at getting kids excited to spend time outdoors, has been making its way through the Eastside.

It recently concluded a run at Kirkland’s North Rose Hill Woodlands Park, from Jan. 15-29, featuring “Bunnies!!!” by local author Kevan Atteberry, which is about about an enthusiastic monster in search of a few friends.

Books have popped up at the Redmond Watershed, Saint Edward State Park and Rhododendron Park in Kenmore and Brightwater Center and Miner’s Corner near Woodinville and Bothell, as well as Juanita Beach Park in Kirkland.

The stories sprawl page by page along woody pathways and boardwalks in parks, beckoning families as they explore the flat, easy-to-navigate trail systems. The books are displayed on large storyboards using sturdy metal frames, meant to endure all kinds of weather.

At Woodlands Park, jovial pages brightened the twisting footpath, delighting kids and parents alike as they followed the exuberant monster on his quest for companionship.

“This is such a fun and innovative way to experience our parks system,” stated Lynn Zwaagstra, Kirkland’s parks and community services director, in a city press release. “It gives our families the opportunity to get outside, get some exercise and help their kids discover the joy of reading.”

This local PopUp StoryWalk program was created by Kenmore resident Elisabeth Lepine, who discovered a StoryWalk trail while vacationing in upstate New York with her family.

Lepine’s oldest daughter was so charmed by the colorful adventure that it inspired her to replicate the experience and share it with others. She teamed up with friends Jasmin Thankachen and Beth Yost, whose passion and appreciation for the project matched her own.

“Our hope is that PopUp StoryWalk will motivate parents, teachers and caregivers to take children outdoors to enjoy the beauties of the environment while encouraging a love of reading and imagination,” according to their website.

Together, they have worked to fund the creation of three “PopUp StoryWalk” books, which appear in different parks throughout King County. The other books are “The Bear and the Piano” by David Litchfield and “Yellow Kayak” by Nina Laden. There will be three new books in 2019, and the group is eyeing O.O. Denny Park as a potential location, Lepine said.

“We like the secretiveness, so we never announce it until a week or so out,” Lepine told the Reporter, adding that the pop-ups usually last for three weekends.

Lepine said that the last panel of the StoryWalk always comes with a field guide, so families can sign their names and make suggestions for future books and locations.

“Our favorite thing is to work with local authors and illustrators,” Lepine said.

Originally founded in Montpelier, Vermont, in 2007 by Anne Ferguson, the StoryWalk project features installations across the country. The name StoryWalk is a registered trademark. The local project has enjoyed support from 4Culture, Friends of Saint Edward State Park, Tiny Treks, Snapdoodle Toys and the Arts of Kenmore.

“PopUp StoryWalk” is a recent addition to the Eastside community. It opened on May 19, 2018 with an installation during Kids to Parks Day at Saint Edward State Park, and continued with a popular summer series and the debut of the elementary school enrichment program.

“PopUp StoryWalk” aims to “encourage a lifelong love of learning and an appreciation of the outdoors.” It promotes literacy and art appreciation, as well as healthy physical activity and stewardship of Washington’s natural resources. It also provides access to stories and books to all communities.

“You don’t need to bring anything but your walking feet,” Lepine said.

Lepine and her co-founders are “driven by the smiles, giggles and joy filled moments we see and hear from all the families who have experienced PopUp Storywalk.”

“Thank you to all the families, educators, tourists and community members who have walked the trails and enjoyed the stories,” they wrote on their blog. “We are so excited to continue bringing new books to the trails and parks around our community in 2019!”

See www.popupstorywalk.org for more.

“The Bear and the Piano” by David Litchfield was one of the books featured in 2018 by “PopUp StoryWalk.” Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

“The Bear and the Piano” by David Litchfield was one of the books featured in 2018 by “PopUp StoryWalk.” Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

Photo courtesy of Elisabeth Lepine

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