October 16, 2018
Read while walking, or is it the other way around?
by Michael Seidlinger
Bet you never thought walking while reading might be a way to get the reading-averse to back to the books.
Beginning in 2007 in Montpelier, Vermont, Anne Ferguson, a chronic disease specialist, needed to come up with ways to get people active and moving. “I realized if I did something active for the children, then maybe the parents would become involved.” Unsurprisingly, she was able to get kids active but the adults would stand around idly. The end result of her efforts is a project called StoryWalk. The aim? Children under seven years old participate so that they need a parent to help them walk and move through both park and page. In doing so, they get the body moving as well as the mind, with literacy and exercise blending together seamlessly.
The latest StoryWalk takes place in San Francisco, via the tireless efforts of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, along with the San Francisco Public Library. The half-mile route begins at Crissy Field promenade near the Golden Gate Bridge, and participates will be able to get their heart-rate up while reading Dave Eggers’ latest book, Her Right Foot. “We’ve had parents who’ve said, ‘My kids hate to read but they love to run around,’” said senior director of the Parks Conservancy Kate Bickert, “And then other parents [say] ‘My kids will totally sit in their rooms all day and look at their book, and they don’t ever want to go outside.’”
StoryWalk exemplifies a valiant and proactive solution to bridging the gap between such drastic preferences. And the parents get some steps in, too. It’s an enticing activity for the entire family. I mean, in general, I wish I could walk and read. The best I can do is stare at my phone and read a sentence or two before bumping into a lamp pole or worse, a group of people. Any activity that merges something physical and with the chance to read a compelling book is a win for all involved.
Michael Seidlinger is the Library and Academic Marketing Manager at Melville House.