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Spirit of Acadiana: Walking 'the walk' at J. Wallace James

Posted at 6:21 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 20:18:21-04

“Alright, this is Alycat story walk,” begins librarian Paula Graffeo, speaking to a group of J. Wallace James Elementary School students, “and our first story is Alycat and the Friendship Friday”.

A ‘story’ walk? What?

“A ‘story walk’ is basically what it is,” explains principal Jon Downs. “You’re gonna’ walk around our wonderful courtyard here, and read a story. “

And at the courtyard so close to Paula Graffeo’s library, the magic of reading will take it outside. “We’re gonna start here,” she continues to the 10 or so students, “and walk and read one panel at a time”.

Each panel will have a page of the story, in this case from Bourque’s book, Alycat and the Friendship Friday. Kids and classes should have no problem taking it all in. “It’s just signs,” says student Jasper Fuselier. “You read the signs and you walk; and you read another sign and you walk again.”

Classes will go outside, and when they spread out break into smaller groups and do other activities, the kids will get time without their masks.

“I think it’s a smart idea for library time, for social distancing because you can’t have a big crowd around one story book,” goes the ‘outside literary opportunity’ endorser Gabbie Best, a J. Wallace James 5th-grader. Assistant Principal Beryl Wagner agrees. “And I think they will really love the story walk to take a break, mask off and be encouraged to read."

Covid-19 restrictions are going to be tough, which makes getting kids outside all the more important, says Downs. “We have to provide kids the outside air as much as possible, without a mask on –inside we have to wear a mask and be safe—but this is definitely going to be a way we can enhance that outside activity.”

We go back to Graffeo’s tour as she takes them to a storyboard. “Alright guys, I see that this panel has a bold print word ‘patient’. Can anybody tell me what that means? Patient?” Each panel will have opportunities for extra-learning… plus there are QR codes with bonus features. All you need is a device to unlock the code.

It’s win-win-win: literature, immediate access, outside fun, and the author is so very pleased. “I can just imagine all of the kids take a break from school, come outside and see the Alycat and see the story, and just be able to tap into their imagination and their creativity also,” smiles Bourque.

And why do a story walk? The answer—lies in the students themselves.

“They’re the reason why I’m here every day, the reason why I wake up every morning,” says Graffeo enthusiastically. “I’ve missed them so much with the pandemic and the school being closed. Not being able to get them books, not being able to share books with them.”

Paula Graffeo hopes other schools will take the story walk idea and run with it, all to perpetuate the love of reading.

“I would love for other schools to be able to use the Story Walk as well,” she says. “In fact, the author did create them so they could be rented out, so other schools could have it, and the community can have it for different events and participate in story walks around Acadiana as well.”

***For more information on Alysson Bourque, her ‘Alycat’ series and discussing a possible Story Walk idea with her, visit***

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