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Nature Center and Library Join Forces to Boost Literacy and Offer New Outdoor Learning Experience

Nature Center and Library Join Forces to Boost Literacy and Offer New Outdoor Learning Experience
Lake County Forest Preserve officials hope that turning beloved children’s stories into trail hikes this summer may boost literacy, offer families a new outdoor learning experience and, hopefully, make the preserves a go-to destination.

The forest preserve district, Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods and Waukegan Public Library are collaborating to create what likely will be the region’s first children’s trail book at Greenbelt Forest Preserve near North Chicago and Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods this summer.

Drawing on a popular concept started in the United Kingdom and adopted successfully elsewhere, local organizers hope to draw families into local preserves with a trail story and, perhaps, a Little Free Library stocked with English and Spanish children’s books as part of the bilingual Lake County program.

The selected story, to be displayed on some 15 panels along a half-mile trail, will include accompanying nature-related activities to enrich the experience.

“Each page will have an associated activity that will encourage people to do something in nature, like look for animal prints or look for a leaf — whatever makes sense to the story,’” Sophie Twichell, executive director of Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, said.

Though directed at young children ages 2 to 6, the hike and related activities in what might be called “Trail Tales” in English and “Caminata con Cuentos” in Spanish will have a broader appeal.

“Everyone will learn, ‘Oh you look for tracks this way,’” she said.

The Trail Tales concept, will encourage…
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