Reading Rocks: Good Things Happen When Nature and Books Collide

Story Trails around metro Detroit and Ann Arbor are a creative way to read a story with your kids. Here are some great options for you and your family.

Do you have a hard time getting your son or daughter to sit down and actually listen to you read a story? If you answered yes, then a story trail might just be what you need to inspire a new love for books. 

On a story trail, you walk the trail to find pages of a book posted along the way. StoryWalk trails were created by Ann Ferguson, a specialist in chronic disease prevention, who was looking for fun ways to get families outside and moving.

In southeast Michigan, some libraries have teamed up with parks or cities to bring the trails to life. Some trails even plan activities for families to do along with reading the pages of the books. 

Here’s a fun challenge: Make a plan to hit all of these trails this spring as a fun socially distant adventure for the family. Who knows, your child may even be inspired to create his or her own afterwards! 

Auburn Hills Public Library Story Walk

Address: 3400 E. Seyburn Drive, Auburn Hills

The trail begins in the summer and remains in place into October as the story changes monthly. The theme for summer 2021 will be: “Tales with tails.” Watch for more details at the library.

Baker Woods Preserve Storybook Trail

Address: 11914 Trinkle Road, Dexter

Because of the terrain, this trail is recommended for ages 2 and older walking on their own or using a baby carrier for kids that are younger. Starting the first week of February and through March, the featured book will be Maple Syrup from the Sugarhouse by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton with illustrations by Kathryn Mitter. By mid-April, the featured book will be A Season of Flowers by Michael Garland through the end of May. Activities along the trail accompany each book and a scavenger hunt is planned in May.

Beverly Park Story Book Trail

Address: 300 W. Merrill St., Birmingham

Located in Beverly Park, families can read an entire book posted along the nearly half-mile trail. The story changes monthly.

Friendship Woods Story Trail

Address: 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights

This trail in the Red Oaks Nature Center is an award winner. As families read the permanent book – How to Hide a Butterfly and Other Insects, by Ruth Heller – they can play games and learn how bugs play hide-and-seek with Mother Nature. The 17 posts that hold the open-paged books were created with repurposed wood. 

Heritage Park Story Trail

Address: 1150 S. Canton Center Road, Canton

Walk the trail around the large pond at Heritage Park and when you reach the last page, you’ll have clocked a half mile. The story changes monthly, and March’s book will be When the Storm Comes by Linda Ashman.

Highland Township Library StoryWalk

Address: 444 Beach Farm Circle, Highland

The library tries to incorporate books that correlate with its special outdoor programs, such as its yearly Monarch Butterfly Festival. Each book new book starts in April and is removed by late November. The trail is open even when the library is closed.

Livonia Public Library StoryWalk

Address: 32777 Five Mile Road, Livonia

The Nature Nook at the library holds the StoryWalk, which includes a Braille overlay as the stories change frequently. Last year, the library also held a Haunted StoryWalk as children collected (non-candy) treats while reading the story. 

Springfield Township Library Storybook Trail 

Address: 12000 Davisburg Road, Davisburg

The trail, which starts at the library parking lot, is available all year round and the stories change monthly. The 1/3-mile trail takes families through the Shiawassee Basin Preserve and features 18 stops along the way. It even ends near the playground, perfect for littles with more energy to burn.

Sterling Heights Library StoryWalks

Addresses:

These trails through the parks in Sterling Heights have featured classic books – like Harry the Dirty Dog and Katy No-Pocket – as well as newer books – like Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. The books are changed throughout the year, with regular updates posted on the library’s Facebook page.

Tips to Get the Most out of Story Trails

  • Use the bathroom beforehand. Most trails do not have a restroom along the way. You don’t want to be far into the story and have to turn back around.
  • Dress for the adventure. Make sure to wear close-toed shoes and bring a jacket in case the weather turns cold. Also, remember to put on bug repellent if walking in the woods.  
  • Stay on the trail. You don’t want to veer off to get lost or get yourself into weeds or poison ivy. 
  • Stay hydrated. Make sure to bring a full water bottle. Some parks or libraries may have water fountains, while others may not.

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