The Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft, a division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), has launched four new trails to connect Ohio families with nature while encouraging reading, including Maumee Bay State Park in Northwest Ohio. Storybook Trails present children’s books in a series of child-height panels to blend the fun of outdoor exploration with reading.
“Visiting a Storybook Trail is a great opportunity for families to enjoy learning in the outdoors together,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Kids of all ages will find fun and interactive ways to engage with these stories all while discovering more about conservation and the natural world.”
Trails constructed at Maumee Bay, Dillon, John Bryan and Wingfoot Lake State Parks add to the educational tool already installed at Alum Creek. Each features a different story, letting families walk their way through some of Ohio’s most picturesque trails while learning about different aspects of nature from authors who were inspired by it.
“One crisp October day a few years ago, I was watching the last two leaves hanging from a tree limb, and a line popped into my head: One leaf, two leaves on the tree,” author and Ohio University Alumni John Micklos Jr. said. “From that inspiration came my picture book ‘One Leaf, Two Leaves, Count with Me!’, a book about counting and seasons.”
Micklos’ book is featured at Wingfoot Lake State Park. Other books include “Where Butterflies Grow” by Joanne Ryder (Maumee Bay);
“Miss Maple’s Seeds” by Eliza Wheeler (Dillon); and “As an Oak Tree Grows,” written by G. Brian Karas (John Bryan).
The ODNR launched the Storybook Trail program in 2019 to promote the importance of literacy, a healthy lifestyle, and connecting with nature. A Little Free
Library complements the trail, and visitors can borrow books for free or donate books to the collection. Books for trail openings were provided by School Rocks Party Box and Ali Michaels, a 10-year-old from Chapman Elementary School in Dublin, Ohio.
This year, ODNR partnered with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library to provide story content for several trails and raise awareness of these valuable resources for Ohio families. The Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library provides one free book every month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age five. To learn more about the program and how to participate, visit ohioimaginationlibrary.org.