Work was recently completed on a project combining love of reading with enjoying nature.  The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rock Creek StoryWalk, is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21. Project team members, from left, Vince Zaccardi, Lyle Russell, Belinda Riddle and Leslie Warren show the sign at the beginning of the story book trail, located behind Coffee County Lannom Memorial Public Library.

Work was recently completed on a project designed to take the love of a good story into the beauty of nature.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Rock Creek StoryWalk, is slated for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21.

The event will be held in conjunction with the summer reading kickoff party of the Coffee County Lannom Memorial Public Library, set for 5:30-7 p.m.

Organizers have planned various activities for the visitors. Free refreshments will be provided.


Completing the story trail

The story book trail is located behind the library. 

University of Tennessee Extension Agent Belinda Riddle served as project director for the Rock Creek StoryWalk initiative.

“The StoryWalk is an innovative way for families to enjoy the benefits of physical activity, time with family, literacy and time outdoors,” Riddle said. “There is a growing body of evidence that suggests time spent outdoors in natural green spaces improves health, including mental health.”

The project was funded through a $5,000 grant from UT Tennessee Extension, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropy dedicated solely to health, according to Riddle.

Riddle praised everyone involved with the venture.

In addition to Riddle, the project team included Anna Duncan, with TSU Extension,; Lyle Russell, with Tullahoma Parks and Recreation; Kass VonWert and Leslie Warren, representing the library; and Vince and Aneta Zaccardi, with the Tennessee Valley Woodworkers Association.

The efforts of local officials helped the community earn the grant award, said Riddle.

Thanks to Mayor Lane Curlee and the work of the Get Fit! Tullahoma Wellness Council, the City of Tullahoma was one of three communities in the state to be awarded this grant as an “innovator community,” said Riddle.


Walk and read

The story book trail is part of the Rock Creek Greenway, starting behind the library.

“The StoryWalk is a place where families can be active, together, as they walk, talk and read while spending time outdoors,” Riddle said.

It consists of approximately 25 reading stations along the route, with each stop featuring a glass-fronted podium.

Each station reveals one page of the book. To read the entire book, those walking have to complete the whole trail.

“Literacy is the number one social determinant of health,” Riddle said. “We want to encourage children to read more and learn more for better health.”

The reading stations are spaced about 30 yards apart from each other and encase a story suitable for young readers, with a different story featured each month.

“Vince and Aneta Zaccardi, daughter Amy Yerka and fellow woodworker Paul Jalbert of the Tennessee Valley Woodworkers Association spent countless hours designing and fabricating the 25 book platforms and the wooden sign marking the starting point,” Riddle said.

Local artists Robby Warren and Jordan Nalls illustrated the StoryWalk dragon mascots that will be hidden on a book page along the trail, as an identifier for children to earn a storybook charm for each book read, added Riddle.

Local contributors to the project also include the Literacy Council, Builder’s Supply, GFWC Centennial Women’s Club of Tullahoma, Daniel’s Automotive, Boy Scout Troup 336, Coffee County 4-H, KA Display Solutions, McMurr’s Printing, THS National English Honor Society and Coordinated School Health.


Books to expect

The books featured on the story book trail in the upcoming months will be as follows:

May – “What Not to Give Your Mom on Mother’s Day” by Martha Seif Simpson and “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers

June – “Mousetronaut” by Mark Kelly and “Zoo in the Sky” by Jacqueline Mitton

July –“Rainbow Fish” by Marcus Pfister and “Not Quite a Narwhal” by Jessie Sima

August – “How Do Dinosaurs Go to School?” by Jane Yolen and “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” by Karen Beaumont

September – “The Grouchy Ladybug” by Eric Carle and “Duck on a Bike” by David Shannon

October – “Little Red Hen” and “Little Owls Night” by Divya Srinivasan

November – “Pumpkin Soup” by Helen Cooper and “Bear Says Thanks” by Karma Wilson

December – “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson and “Dream Snow” by Eric Carle


Summer reading program

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the story trail will coincide with the summer reading kickoff party of the library.

The program has a different theme each year. The initiative aims to motivate young readers to delve into various subjects.

The theme of this year’s summer reading is “A Universe of Stories.”

Elena Cawley may be reached via email at