Story Book Trail in Lincoln Park Hopes to Inspire Early Literacy

RocketKids Article

Pictured: Amy Weinberger of the I am Yes! Joyful Project cut the ribbon at the Story Book Trail Grand Opening on Nov 16. Photo by Emma Dannenfelser.

The Story Book Trail at Lincoln Park opened on November 16, inviting a new and exciting way for Manatee County to improve literacy and reading confidence among students. Story Book Trail is composed of panels along the Lincoln Park walking trail that serve as “pages” of a book, giving children and parents the ability to practice reading while getting exercise and fresh air. The first book featured on the panels is A Walk in The Forest, by Maria Dek, a poetic story that includes counting animals and plants while enjoying the beauty of nature. The installation was a collaborative effort between the School District of Manatee County and Soar in 4, and was sponsored by I am Yes Joyful Projects and Manatee Education Foundation.

The trail’s grand opening started off in style, with the Lincoln Memorial Middle School drumline marching along the trail playing numerous fight songs. The performance was followed by speakers from all four sponsoring organizations, emphasizing the community efforts and teamwork it took to complete the educational park addition. Even though the dark clouds above cast a constant rainy drizzle, the event was full of gleaming smiles and excitement over the literacy project that will no doubt have a lasting impact on students within the local community.

One of the primary objectives for the trail is to give parents the ability to bring more education into their children’s day-to-day lives. “A parent is a child’s first teacher, so this installation is another opportunity for parents to serve as teachers for their students,” says Derek Jensen, the deputy superintendent of instruction at the School District of Manatee County. Reading out-loud to children is a huge factor in determining how easily they learn to read and how they will perform academically in the future. “It's huge. Some people would say it's probably the number-one factor in determining early academic outcomes, as well as long term academic outcomes. Students in poverty oftentimes have a word gap of millions of words, so some students come to school having heard one million fewer words than other students,” Jensen adds.

The panels serve as a great way for early readers to practice their skills while being able to move their bodies. Many students struggle to maintain concentration, so being free to be silly and run could be an important bridge in helping certain students achieve their literacy goals. The panels also have QR codes that provide audio translations to Spanish and French for non-English speaking families.

The Story Book Trail installation is just the first of many, with the four organizations hoping to create even more additions across Manatee county. “It's part of a really intentional early literacy framework that we have throughout Manatee County to support families. I think that's really cool because it's not something that's an isolation-it's part of the big picture of early literacy,” Jensen says.

Story Book Trail at Lincoln Park, 501 17th St., East Palmetto. 

Pictured: Amy Weinberger of the I am Yes! Joyful Project cut the ribbon at the Story Book Trail Grand Opening on Nov 16. Photo by Emma Dannenfelser.

For more information, visit mymanatee.org

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