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UP CLOSE: ‘You Matter’

Lake Placid Public Library, John Brown Lives! open ‘StoryWalk’ at John Brown Farm

The Lake Placid Public Library’s new StoryWalk, pictured here, is located at the John Brown Farm historic site. (News photo — Elizabeth Izzo)

LAKE PLACID — Take a walk through the John Brown Farm State Historic Site to see a story with a central message: no matter who you are, you matter.

The Lake Placid Public Library, in collaboration with John Brown Lives!, has installed a new exhibit of sorts at the John Brown Farm. It’s called a StoryWalk, a short walk featuring printed pages of a book every few feet. The children’s book on display is “You Matter,” written and illustrated by California-based author Christian Robinson.

“You Matter” was published not long after the death of George Floyd, which spurred widespread protests over police brutality and racial injustice, and renewed focus for many on racial inequity in a variety of facets of society.

“I wanted to write this book because not everyone is told that they matter,” Robinson said in a June virtual reading on PBS Kids. “Not everyone is made to feel that their life matters. I wanted to show them, and anyone who picks up this book, that it does.”

The new installation at John Brown Farm was made possible through a grant from the Lake Placid Education Foundation.

Lake Placid Public Library Director Bambi Pedu poses at the StoryWalk at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. (Photo provided)

With the coronavirus pandemic, the library has been looking at different ways to provide its usual programming for kids.

“We thought, what a perfect time to do (the StoryWalk) with social distancing and all of that,” Lake Placid Public Library Director Bambi Pedu said Tuesday, Oct. 13. “Karen Armstrong, it was really her idea to do it. She’s our children’s librarian. Her and (John Brown Lives! Executive Director Martha Swan) spoke about putting it out there. It’s been used so much out there, those trails.”

Pedu, Armstrong and Swan considered a few different books, but ultimately they came to a consensus on “You Matter” and got permission from Robinson to use his book. The StoryWalk was installed on Oct. 4, and it will be on display at least through the end of October.

The signs featuring pages of the book will be reusable, so it’s possible the StoryWalk may return again in another location in the future, according to Pedu. In the meantime, the library is encouraging residents to visit the StoryWalk and share their experience on the library’s Facebook page.

The StoryWalk Project was first created by Vermont resident Anne Ferguson, with help from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in Montpelier, Vermont. For those who don’t get the chance to check out the StoryWalk at John Brown Farm — located just off the roundabout at the farm — the Lake Placid library has an available copy of “You Matter.” A video of Robinson reading the book is also available at https://www.wpbstv.org/you-matter-read-along-with-christian-robinson-pbs-kids/.