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Delray Beach librarian creates creative way to inspire reading through COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 10:01 AM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 19:21:34-05

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — While living through the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve been encouraged time and time again to move activities, gatherings and even meals outside. How about reading? There is one local librarian who is doing that, determined to make sure developing a love for reading is not lost during this time.

“Readers are born on people’s laps and that’s really hard right now because we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so having an opportunity to read a book with your family and enjoy it is a really great opportunity,” said Debbie Tanner, librarian at S.D. Spady Elementary School in Delray Beach.

It’s not political signs or reminders to keep your six feet of distance that you’ll find in twelve city parks, it’s what you could call “landscape literacy." It’s an idea Tanner came up with and ran with in her spare time.

“I worry that people aren’t reading. I worry about that and as the school librarian it’s my job to make sure people are reading and finding things that are awesome so if I have to bring it to the park, okay, I can do that,” said Tanner.

Tanner secured a grant, selected stories, jumped through hoops for permission, publishing, and printing rights, and then created a walk-through, outdoor experience to inspire a love of reading within children in our communities.

“I was looking for things that would be fun to read, things that would be meaningful that people could make connections to but mostly that they were just fun,” said Tanner.

Ten different picture books are scattered throughout Delray Beach parks, the pages each printed on large, colorful signs so that children can join their parents or grandparents in a memorable way to share a book safely.

“Last week when I went to move the signs at Bexley Park which is just down the way, the lady said, ‘but wait I didn’t get a chance to read this one yet!’,” said Tanner.

Each week Tanner goes out and moves the books from park to park so more people can enjoy more stories.

Here is a list of the schedule and where you can find stories in the park to get outside and read:

The stories will be in Delray Beach parks through Dec. 5 before being moved to North Palm Beach parks.