Family Fun at Storybook Trails
Something new has been added to entertainment for youngsters who enjoy a walk in nature. Ohio Department of Natural Resources added Storybook Trails in 2020 to five state parks as a place for youngsters to explore the world of books as well as nature. Ohio is one of only seven states with free admission to all of its 75 state parks.
The first park to have a Storybook Trail was Alum Creek State Park. Other parks that share the nature trail include Dillon, John Bryan, Maumee Bay, and Wingfoot State Parks. More will be added. Here families can walk down scenic trails while learning about nature from authors who received inspiration from it.
Each park features a different book regarding nature and the books are changed at least once every year. This year, ODNR partnered with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library to provide story content to the trails.
Reading and enjoying nature are two important values being developed. These Storybook Trails bring books to life for children and families. Along the way, you might want to sit down at a picnic table to enjoy lunch or a snack in the great out-of-doors. Some of the trails are paved while others are grass.
Dillon State Park in Zanesville was the first Storybook Trail in Muskingum County. Here the story of “In the Trees, Honeybees” by Lori Mortensen is presented in child-high pages along Black Locust Trail. That’s down by the beach and ball courts with a great playground close by.
“In the Trees, Honey Bees” is a rhyming book about nature. Younger children always like rhymes while on the sidebar there are creative activities and information about bees, pollination, and honey for older children. Students actually chose this book as they understand the need to save the honey bees.
This half-mile trail encourages children to explore the world of nature and is not too long for younger children or grandparents. There are 16 colorful child-high panels that bring the book to life and feature fun facts, nature clues, and activities. Trail-side interactive panels will have readers buzzing like a bee or breaking into a bee dance. These boards also encourage reading as you read the entire book along the trail.
Some activities will take you on a side trail that circles back to the main trail so you don’t miss any of the story. These extras add excitement to the day if you have the time and energy.
When you are finished walking the trail, stop at the Free Little Library, where you can borrow a book to take home with you or leave books for someone else to enjoy.
The Muskingum County Library liked this idea so much that they created a Story Walk in downtown Zanesville in June 2020. They change their stories with the seasons so you will frequently have a new adventure.
At this time, you can read the story of “Officer Buckle and Gloria” as the pages are set in the beautiful flower containers along 5th Street beginning at Market Street, and end up at the Muskingum County Library.
Officer Buckle presents safety programs to Napville Elementary School. But the children pay little attention until…he brings his dog, Gloria, along with him. The children love the antics of Gloria. Take the Story Walk and find out how the story ends.
Plans are near completion for another Story Walk near Kidzville in Riverside Park along the beautiful Muskingum River. Permanent frames will be installed this summer downtown and at the park so stories can be changed frequently.
Placing Story Walks at strategic places in the county where the community frequents will encourage reading and exercise. Springtime has brought families and their children to Kidzville as a great place to play in the fresh air. It’s a busy place. Many families are looking forward to the opening of the Kidzville Story Walk.
All three story trails provide a great place for a free stroll through nature with your children or grandchildren as you read a book, get some exercise, and explore the world of nature together.
Storybook Trail at Dillion State Park just west of Zanesville is the perfect place for a day with the entire family. Often visitors see white-tailed deer, grouse, wild turkeys, waterfowl, and sometimes even a bald eagle. The trail is located near a nice playground with a picnic area, and very close to the beach for a day in the sun. Visit there soon for free outdoor family fun. Be sure to pack a picnic basket!