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Fred Moore Park introduces ‘The Day We Begin’ StoryWalk experience to Denton community

Fred Moore Park introduces ‘The Day We Begin’ StoryWalk experience to Denton community

Fred Moore Park introduces ‘The Day We Begin’ StoryWalk experience to Denton community
September 17
10:00 2023

The Denton Public Library installed a StoryWalk in Fred Moore Park in June to provide literary services as an act of engagement to the local community. 

Established first by Anne Fergeson in Vermont in 2007, StoryWalks are literary activities where pages of a book are divided and placed in displays along a walking path.

“We thought our project would be perfect so the people in the community can read together while they are walking through the park,” said Sarah Ward, youth services librarian at Denton Public Library and StoryWalk coordinator. “This part of Denton does not have a library within walking distance, so we wanted to bring reading to them.” 

The Denton Public Library funded the project by applying in 2022 for the Texas Reads Grant from the Texas State Library Archives Commission and the United States Institute of Museum Library Services. The program initiates public library funding to allow the community to engage in reading through book talks, author signings and English literacy classes, awarding a maximum of $10,000 in one fiscal year to public libraries to cover the cost of materials and or resources needed to implement a reading or literacy program.

The Fred Moore Park StoryWalk, installed four days prior to Juneteenth, displayed the children’s literature book “All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom,” by Angela Johnson. The book takes the perspective of a young girl experiencing freedom for the first time in the enslaved South. Fred Moore Park was chosen not only for its lack of library but for its events, as it hosts the Denton Juneteenth Festival every year. 

“There’s a survey at the end of the StoryWalk so we can get feedback, and one of the sweetest responses we got was, ‘Thank you so much for putting this story in a park that I have celebrated so many Juneteenths,'” Ward said. “To me, that meant we did our job.” 

Denton Parks and Recreation worked alongside Denton Public Library to install the project prior to Juneteenth so that the community could read and engage in the story during the holiday. 

“With Parks and Recreation we help install projects and allow for more engagement in the community through some of the activities like the StoryWalk,” said Gary Packan, Denton Parks and Recreation director and Denton resident. “With this project, it promoted reading and learning throughout the park, but the library really is who had a handle on the project.” 

A second StoryWalk, “The Day We Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson, which journeys through the first day of school, was also installed in the park. Ward placed the story to allow children to connect with the books and to show a diverse community. 

“It’s about the first days of school and how you feel like you are different from everybody else,” Ward said. “We wanted the kids to be reading these books to see themselves in them.” 

Though this is the first StoryWalk within Fred Moore Park, Denton previously installed a StoryWalk in Denton Square in 2021. Denton Main Street Association, in partnership with the Denton Public Library, placed a StoryWalk within 16 local businesses in Denton Square. The project encouraged the community to interact with local businesses as well as participate in reading.

“It was a cohesive way for families to get out and about and establish some foot traffic in local businesses,” outreach librarian and Denton resident Haley Phillips said. “It promoted more community movement in a way that’s free and fully accessible.”

Community members showed intrigue during its manufacturing.

“After the initial install there were community members that were just enjoying the park and several of them came up, a woman came and she said she was just thrilled to have this,” Director of Libraries and Denton resident Jennifer Bekker said. “I think just seeing that even before that it was completed there was community support.”

The Denton Public Library is waiting to extend the program to other parks given the attention to the StoryWalk in Fred Moore Park. 

“We do hope in the future we can expand StoryWalks to other parks and trails across the city,” Bekker said. “We don’t have a specific timeline for that but over the next few years we hope to see a few more.” 

Featured Image: A row of Storywalk pages stand in Fred Moore Park on Sept. 10, 2023. John Anderson

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Courtni Culbertson

Courtni Culbertson

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