It’s almost officially summertime, and StoryWalks are back! In partnership with the City of Vaughan’s Department of Parks, Forestry and Horticulture and five Canadian publishers to bring a selection of picture books to local Vaughan trails, where park visitors will be able to piece together stories one page at a time as they make their way along the trails. It’s a great way to explore the great outdoors while fostering a love of reading. You’ll find one picture book in each of Vaughan’s five wards, plus a sixth book at the Kortright Centre! Read on for a taste of what to expect this year at our local parks.
Ward 1: Mackenzie Glen District Park
Little readers can follow the friendship journey of Emma and Frank at the Mackenzie Glen District Park, where we’ll be reading Friends for Real by Ted Staunton and illustrator Ruth Ohi (IG: @ruthohi / Twitter: @Ruth_Ohi). Mackenzie Glen is the perfect place to meet a new friend, whether it be on the soccer field, at the splash pad or playground, or maybe at one of the many concerts and events that take place on the park grounds (see The Caverners: Tribute to the Beatles on July 26!). This relatively flat parkland means it’s easy and accessible for families with little ones, and a parking lot and onsite public washrooms make picnicking a breeze. As part of the Bartley Smith Greenway (a 15 km trail running from Steeles Ave all the way up to Teston Rd) the park also has easy trails situated conveniently within a subdivision.
Friends for Real is provided by Scholastic.
Ward 2: Nort Johnson District Park
In Sometimes I Feel Like a River by Danielle Daniel (IG: @danielledaniel) and illustrator Josée Bisaillon (IG: @joseebisaillon), readers can follow short poems about nature that invite mindfulness as they stroll through the park. Young readers are encouraged to use all their senses to fully experience the world around them and connect with nature. With the poems spread throughout Nort Johnson District Park, travel the easy 1.5 km trail along the Humber River and focus your attention on the rushing water, the trees, the sunshine, and the birdsong as you make your way through the book. Located near the Woodbridge Pool & Memorial Arena, pop by Nort Johnson District Park after a swim for a picnic, or hit up the Woodbridge Village Farmers Market throughout the summer! Parking is available at the arena.
Sometimes I Feel Like a River is provided by Groundwood Books.
Ward 3: Lawford Park
Celebrate all things pink with Pink is for Everybody by Ella Russell (IG: @ellarssll) and illustrator Udayana Lugo (IG: @udayanalugo) at Lawford Park! In this heartwarming story, a group of friends fend off boredom on a rainy day and learn to embrace what they love—and to respect other people’s preferences, too. Lawford Park is the perfect space for kiddies to beat their own summer boredom; tucked in the neighbourhood behind Weston Rd and Major Mackenzie Drive, this smaller square still has plenty of space for running around and is equipped with a playground and a soccer field, as well as a walking trail circling the park. When visiting, you can park at the school next door, or just walk on over if you’re a local!
Pink is for Everybody is provided by Owlkids Books.
Ward 4: Sugarbush Heritage Park
Kids can learn about our national animal the beaver in Biindigen!: Amik Says Welcome by Nancy Cooper (Twitter: @mostestpoet), with illustrations by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley (IG: @mangeshig). This educational picture book follows Amik the beaver and her little sister Nishiime as they prepare to meet their cousins, while teaching young readers about beavers and their role in the Canadian environment. Appropriately, this story can be found in Sugarbush Heritage Park, which has some important local history. The plentiful maple trees of the park’s woodlot were historically used for maple syrup tapping in the 1800s when the Baker family purchased the land. A large patch of the original woods have been preserved, and visitors can trek through the unpaved trails for 2.4 km. Since these trails are a bit more challenging for kiddies, StoryWalks boards can be found on the shorter trail loop. Also onsite is a playground, a community garden, and a parking lot for convenience.
Biindigen!: Amik Says Welcome is provided by Owlkids Books.
Ward 5: Marita Payne Park
In The Most Magnificent Idea by Ashley Spires (IG: @ashleyspires / Twitter: @ashleyspires), a young girl finds her creative well running dry. She’s all out of ideas, and tries everything to get them back (brainstorming, taking her dog for a walk, jumping up and down…). What will her next brilliant idea be? Kids can get their own creative juices flowing with a little inspiration from nature at the Marita Payne Park, where they’ll be able to follow the girl’s story. As part of the Bartley Smith Greenway, visitors will find easy walking trails, a pond, and plenty of wildlife—look out for fish, turtles, and Great Blue Herons! Take breaks from your walking at the park’s picnic spots, sports fields, and playgrounds. Parking and washroom facilities can be found at the nearby Dufferin Clark Community Centre (be sure to drop by the Dufferin Clark Library while you’re there!).
The Most Magnificent Idea is provided by Kids Can Press.
Last but not least, we have the Kortright Centre for Conservation, the original home of StoryWalks in Vaughan. Kortright offers 325 hectares (roughly 800 acres) of preserved woodland, where visitors can experience not only a breath of calm in the middle of the city but can also learn all about nature conservation—and maple syrup! What better location to read I Hear You, Forest (by Kallie George (IG: @kallie.george), with illustrations by Carmen Mok (IG: @carmenmokstudio / Twitter: @carmenmokstudio) than surrounded by woods? This picture encourages young readers to focus on the sounds of the forest, from rustling leaves in the wind to the creaks of the trees. What will the forest say to you? The Kortright Centre does have an admission fee, but VPL members can drop by Dufferin Clark Library, Maple Library, or Woodbridge Library to pick up an Experience Vaughan Pass that will cover admission (call ahead to make sure they’re available!).
I Hear You, Forest is provided by Greystone Books.
Before you head out on the trails, be sure to check out our Nature Backpacks! These bags come pre-packed with themed activities designed to help kids engage with different kinds of nature, such as “Things with Wings”, “Splish, Splash, Splosh”, and “Creepy, Crawly Critters” (there’s even a “Winter Outdoor Fun” kit for the colder months!). With seven backpacks to choose from, kids can have their pick of fun.
Lastly, VPL offers some programs to celebrate the great outdoors! Our next session of Citizen Science: Explore Your Trail will be held at Vellore Woods Park on August 19 from 10:00 – 11:00 am. We also often partner with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for programs such as Backyard Birds, so check out our What’s On guide for more!