Early Language & Literacy Center at GCSU opens ‘Tale Trail’ for Baldwin County families

Cover of the children's book, "Grayson's Play Date" by Steve J. Zachary Jr.

Early Language & Literacy Center at GCSU opens ‘Tale Trail’ for Baldwin County families

It’s no tall tale: A new trail where families can enjoy reading together is coming to Baldwin County’s Harrisburg neighborhood.

Tale Trail is a quarter-mile footpath with a dozen storyboards on posts funded by the Sandra Dunagan Deal Center for Early Language and Literacy at Georgia College & State University. A ribbon cutting ceremony and opening celebration for the trail will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the Collins P. Lee Community Center in Milledgeville.

The path provides families an opportunity to interact and promote language skills, using activities centered around the book “Grayson’s Play Date” by Steve J. Zachary, Jr., a graduate of Baldwin County High School. The book’s main character is his son, Grayson.

“The primary goal of the Tale Trail is to enhance language use by presenting an illustrated book along the walking path with each page of the book displayed,” said Jamie Thomas, early language professional development specialist at the Deal Center.

“Ultimately, the Tale Trail aims to make reading fun, interactive and enjoyable for families,” she said, “while fostering language and literacy development.”

Officials from the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce will attend the opening. Families are encouraged to come, explore the trail and meet the author and his family, as well as Grayson, the book’s main character. A memorial bench in honor of Deacon Joseph "Joe" Ward Sr. will also be unveiled.

The first storyboard includes a QR code, so families can upload a video of the book being read by the author. Each page has prompts with questions to ask young listeners and activities to boost reading comprehension and interest in literature.

Eventually, there will be a total of 16 stops along the path. Storyboards are constructed so books can be changed periodically.

Tale Trail is the Deal Center’s version of “StoryWalk Exhibits,” a literacy-boosting project used in other communities throughout the United States. Storybooks can be attached to fences or podium-style boxes and be found in woodsy areas, at playgrounds or on city streets.

Tale Trail storyboards were designed by the university’s Creative Services. Installation at the community center will be noon to 5 p.m. Friday, March 29. About 20 members of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity will dig holes and cement permanent stands with assistance from Georgia College’s Office of Community Engagement and Service and Milledgeville Boy Scout Troop 124.

“We want this Tale Trail to spark some fun for families,” Thomas said, “and help them see reading in a new way. Being interactive out in nature and talking about the book encourages back-and-forth language between parents and children.”

“Please join us in this celebration,” she said, “and in creating a Georgia where everyone has the tools to support children on the path to literacy.”

Updated: 2024-03-28
Cindy O'Donnell
(478) 445-8668