Updated Story Trail unveiled at Oregon Ridge Park

Brandi Horseman learned about the Baltimore County Public Library’s Story Trail while waiting to pick her daughter up from summer camp at Oregon Ridge Park.

On a warm August day, Horseman and her 4-year-old son, Maximus, walked along the nature trail near the park’s nature center to pass the time when they stumbled on a book parsed out on boards set along the trail.

“We had a great time,” Horseman, who is also a part-time librarian at the Reisterstown branch, said. “It was perfectly oriented where you had one page and walked a few feet to the next and you didn’t lose the story while walking through.” The Horsemans, of Sparks, are just one of the visitors taking advantage of a new display at the Cockeysville park.

The trail, set alongside the existing interactive nature trail behind the children’s area of the Oregon Ridge Nature Center, includes a series of picture book pages posted along a path.

It was developed to promote literacy, exercise and family fun, according to library spokeswoman Erica Palmisano.

The newest story was installed in October after the original story, “Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek,” by Marianne Berkes, was damaged by moisture when screws punctured the laminated pieces during the installation.

Library officials, who will be responsible for maintaining the post, have added sealant and have had no issues since, Palmisano said.

Park visitors can currently read “Little Frog and the Scary Autumn Thing.” Written by Jane Yolen, and illustrated by Ellen Shi, the book follows Little Frog on an adventure during her first autumn.

Scared of the bright new colors of the season, Little Frog gains enough courage to hop off the safety of her familiar green lily pad and explore the forest, where she discovers that “most things that are scary are only just new.”

Eighteen platforms made out of pressure-treated deck boards are laid out along with the trail. Each pieces contains laminated book pages set between an acrylic top.

So far, the trail has been well-received, Palmisano said. While checking on the installation last week, Palmisano said she got positive comments from a group of home-schoolers.

“They told me ‘We just read a whole story,’” Palmisano said. “It was so nice to see because I’m over here worried about the little details.”

Families who come to the park are interested in teaching their children about nature, habitat and human impact so the Story Trail is a natural addition, according to Jeanne Andrews, Reisterstown Branch librarian and Certified Maryland Master Naturalist.

Andrews hosts a monthly story time at the park and suggested the park and library team up for the project.

The library system purchased two copies of six different books, which will be changed seasonally to keep the display fresh. The next story planned for the project is “Mushroom in the Rain,” by Mirra Ginsburg.

“These beautiful books encourage children to read, discuss what they see and promote nature exploration in not only our beautiful park, but the world around them,” Andrews said.

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