First StoryWalk event brings literature to kids

Broward County Library, the Frank Art Gallery, and Exhibit Hall held its first StoryWalk at the Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines as a literary experience for children.

This event on Feb. 16 was a part of the Broward Reads campaign to encourage children to read independently.

This is Pembroke Pines’ first year holding the StoryWalk event, but it held its 17th annual Storybook Festival last November, which features live performances and the storybook parade.

Holly Bonkowski, the division director of cultural arts in Pembroke Pines, said combining literacy through art created this first-time event.

“We partner up with the Broward County Library for the Storybook Festival and we have that every November,” said Bonkowski. “So, we got together and created this type of event because we knew literacy through art was a huge initiative for Broward County.”

Commissioner Iris A. Siple said Pembroke Pines uses literacy events like this to promote reading for fun.

“At the city, we’re very committed and dedicated to art and through that art we’re able to enhance reading and make it more fun,” said Siple. “When you read, your whole world opens up for you.”

The main feature of this event was a live reading of the book “’Maybe Something Beautiful” in English and Spanish, in addition to other art stories throughout.

Families also received a free copy of the book at the entrance.

Kimberly White, the youth services coordinator for Broward County Library, said the storytime is a combination of arts and literacy to show families the importance of reading.

“Today we’re doing a storywalk, which is just taking a book apart and putting it in a spot where families come and gather,” said White. “It’s just meant to be another way to show families that it’s fun to read together.”

The event offered free arts and crafts activities, snacks, games and photo-ops for the children.

Families were also signing up their children for their own library card and the Goldfish Swim School for swimming programs.

Joshua Carden, chief curator of The Frank, said this event was very popular and could see it becoming an annual event.

“I definitely think this will turn into an annual event, it’s been really well attended this year,” said Carden. “We had almost 300 children sign up online, which means we’ve had almost 500 people come through today, so I think we’ll continue to do it.”

Martini Felix, a mother of two children, said she would bring her family back to this event next year.

“Oh, absolutely I would,” Felix said. “Even if this event was every month I would still come. This is a good thing for the community to get kids to sing and dance while reading.”