On Friday afternoon, Ohio first lady Fran DeWine and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz celebrated the launch of Ohio's newest Storybook Trail, now open at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe.

“Ohio's Storybook Trails bring families together for lifelong memories of fun and active learning in the great outdoors,” said first lady DeWine. “We’re excited to add more trails at parks around the state so even more Ohioans can discover the joy of reading.”

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, launched the Storybook Trail program in 2019 to promote the importance of literacy, a healthy lifestyle and connecting with nature. There are currently six half-mile Storybook Trails located at state parks in Ohio, each with 15-20 child-height panels featuring pages of a children’s book and an activity to accompany the text on the page.

"Everyone loves a good story, and science supports the physical and mental health benefits of getting outside," said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. "Storybook Trails combine the best of both by promoting child literacy and an active and healthy lifestyle — all in the beautiful settings of Ohio's great outdoors."

“The First Strawberries,” a Cherokee story retold by Joseph Bruchac, was selected as the featured book at Great Seal State Park to complement the park's rich Native American history. Children who are enrolled in the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library and were born in 2017 will receive this book in July. 

There are currently 286,184 children enrolled in the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, which provides one free book every month to children enrolled in the program from birth to age 5. To learn more about the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library and how to participate, visit OhioImaginationLibrary.org.

Governor and first lady DeWine will join ODNR to unveil several other new Storybook Trails in the coming days. A full list of ODNR's Storybook Trails, as well as similar trails located at parks and library districts across the state, can be found at ohiodnr.gov.