Better late than never when it comes to reading a good book.
The Readers to Leaders Story Book Trail was supposed to go in Shopville Community Park in eastern Pulaski County back in May, but wet weather made it a bad day to go out and enjoy the park setting.
Saturday's conditions were much better, however, and the latest trail — which puts portions of a children's book along a walking path and allows individuals to read as they go around the course — was opened as part of an overall celebration of youth literacy at the park.
Hosted by KET (Kentucky Educational Television, part of the Public Broadcasting Service, Shopville experienced "Roll and Read," bringing out a book van full of stuff for kids to enjoy. They partnered with the Pulaski County Community Early Childhood Council.
Along with the event, the ribbon cutting for the newest reading trail was held. The Readers to Leaders trail is a project by the 202 Leadership Lake Cumberland 2020 class. Each leadership class, held through the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, launches a community project, and the Class of 2020 has been able to raise funding so far for a number Readers to Leaders Story Book Trails in parks across Pulaski County.
The Shopville trail marks the sixth one, and there is one more waiting to be installed in Woodstock Park, which is scheduled to take place next Saturday.
"Basically kids can go through and read (the book around) the trail," said Kristin Whitson, part of the leadership class. "We'll change out the books every so often so there are new books. Each trail will have different books; if you go to different parks, kids can experience (a variety of stories)."
The first book at Shopville's park is "Violet," written and illustrated by Kentuckian J. Hammond, the story of an adventurous young girl with a big imagination.
The leadership class' Jessica Carlton said "Roll and Read" involved stations where different books are read to kids — roll from one to the next.
"(It's about) anything we can do to promote reading, getting the kids out, encouraging parents to read to their children," said Carlton.
Amanda Wright with KET said the station has a new Ready To Learn grant from the U.S. Department of Education which helps them use fun learning activities to promote literacy, as they were doing Saturday in the park shelter.
"We are partnering with the Parents as Teachers regional collaborative here in Pulaski County to bring this to ... families and kids here today," she said. "This grant really gives us an opportunity to do some work in communities (like Pulaski County). It's a great community, you all have lots of resources, and we want to add resources and activities for families."
The Parents as Teachers program (via Pulaski County Schools) means that educators work with parents to help them both interact with their children's personal development and learn skills to aid the whole family. Member Carrie Altmaier said the local group is part of a national program. On Saturday, she said they're encouraging families to do the whole Readers to Leaders trail to read a whole book along the trailer, and also mentioned a couple of other reading stations. She also noted the information on how to help parents read to their children and how to talk about books.
"The idea is when children and families read together, it not only encourages strong literacy skills, it also encourages family bonding," said Altmaier. "... When parents are bonding with their children, it helps the brain cells connect and be strong."
Another group involved Saturday was the Pulaski County Community Early Childhood Council. Christie Adams, representing the group as its chairperson, said its purpose is providing opportunities for families to engage with each other and do educational activities together. They try to provide a free activity each month, and that's what took place Saturday. The Council sponsored the literacy trail, and provided free books for children attending on Saturday.