Storybook Trail in East Lyme

What a cool idea! East Lyme’s new Storybook Trail combines reading with physical fitness. Launched in September, the trail is a walking path around the perimeter of Samuel M. Peretz Park in Bridebrook with pages from a picture book laminated and posted on signs along the path. To read the whole story, the reader must walk (or run!) from one sign to the other. The project was planned by East Lyme Public Library Director, Lisa Timothy.

“The Storybook Trail is a great way to help children associate reading with fun. Walking and reading together promotes family togetherness, and it is a great way to enjoy ‘unplugged’ fun!” says Rebecca Scotka, East Lyme Library’s Children’s Librarian, who helped implement the program along with Mike McDowell, Special Events Coordinator of the East Lyme Parks and Recreation Department.

Constructed by East Lyme Public Works, the trail has 13 stops set along the path at intervals of about 300 feet. At each stop, parents and caregivers can read the text with their children and search for letters hidden in the illustrations. A new story will be installed every quarter, says Scotka, who, along with colleague Jean Bull, dressed in festive pirate regalia for the official opening of the trail on Sept. 27.

The trail’s inaugural story is Shiver Me Letters, an alphabet book featuring a band of pirates who sail off in search of the ABCs. Written by June Sobel and illustrated by Henry Cole, the book combines engaging pictures with rhyming text, like this excerpt:  “ ‘R,’ roared the captain. ‘R’s not enough. We need other letters to help make us tough.’ ”

A Booklist review of Shiver Me Letters said: “This rollicking, rhyming, seafaring caper is an inventive alphabet book, and Cole’s comical illustrations put wind in the sails of the clever quest.”

Illustrator Cole applauds the project for its combination of reading and outdoor time. “I’m flattered beyond flatterization that you chose Shiver Me Letters,” he recently wrote to Scotka, recalling the positive influence of his childhood library and librarian in rural Virginia. “Because I grew up on a farm there was no shortage of places to play and be creative,” he added. Any sort of natural setting… like a park… can’t be anything but a good thing!”

Peretz Park is located on Main Street (Rt. 156) in Niantic at the intersection with North Bridebrook Road. In addition to the walking path, the park features sports fields for baseball, soccer, and lacrosse; a basketball court; and a playground. The Storybook Trail is a partnership between the East Lyme Public Library and the East Lyme Parks and Recreation Department to promote healthy minds and healthy bodies.

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