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Media Release: StoryWalk® to be unveiled at Mt Lees

Manawatū District Libraries has been working with Gecko Press and children’s author Juliette MacIver to bring the StoryWalk® concept to Mt Lees Reserve in time for summer.

StoryWalk is a fun and interactive way for children and adults to engage with an outdoor environment, whilst reading pages of a book that are scattered around a location. The StoryWalk® Project was created by Anne Ferguson of Montpelier, Vermont and developed in collaboration with the Kellogg-Hubbard Library.

The concept took off in New Zealand during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Libraries throughout the country put up temporary signage boards with book pages laminated to them for people to read on their walks.

The libraries team had been working with Gecko Press over the past three months on securing the rights to Juliette’s book The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist, which is about a school trip to the hills that goes awry.

The signage boards at Mt Lees Reserve have the pages replicated on them with the permission of Gecko Press and will be a semi-permanent feature, with the ability to move them elsewhere in the future. It’s the first of its kind in the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

“Juliette came and did a reading of the book at the Coach House Museum back in August as part of the Story Lines Story Tour and the kids who attended absolutely loved the story. We asked if she would be keen to be involved with the StoryWalk® concept and she was right on board, so it’s been a pretty quick process,” says Marie Willis, Library Programmes Leader.

Mt Lees was seen as the perfect location for a StoryWalk® given some of the developments that are happening at the reserve, including the installation of a new adventure area.

“We saw an opportunity to help enhance literacy and add a fun element to it, and what better way than to read a story as you walk through the reserve, plus you may find a little surprise along the way,” says Marie.

Juliette and her publisher, Gecko Press, have been very supportive of the project and Juliette will be attending the unveiling and walk through the adventure area with local schoolchildren, reading them the story from the newly installed signage boards.

“We love the idea of bringing The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist into the outdoors, both because it really relates to the book, and also because it encourages children to discover the fun of reading in a way that is novel and child-centred. Hopefully they will come back to the library to read it again!" says Julia Marshall, founder of Gecko Press.

The success of the Mt Lees StoryWalk® could see another semi-permanent fixture installed at Feilding’s Kōwhai Park in 2023.

Visitors to Mt Lees will be able to enjoy the StoryWalk® themselves following the unveiling on Friday 2 December..