Books Come to Life on the Storybook Trail of the Smokies

Books Come to Life on the Storybook Trail of the Smokies
Cosby Nature Trail
The Cosby Nature Trail, home of the Storybook Trail of the Smokies. Photo by NPS/ Katie Corrigan.

Reading is even more fun in the great outdoors. That’s the big idea behind the Storybook Trail of the Smokies initiative coming to the one-mile Cosby Nature Trail this spring.

Soon young readers, school groups, and families will be able to experience their favorite Smokies-themed books like never before with on-trail storybook pages to read, trailside activities, and educational content tailored specifically for the site by Great Smoky Mountains National Park rangers. 

Over eight weeks this spring beginning Saturday, April 3, four different books—at various reading levels—will be highlighted for two-week periods along the nature trail with two more featured books to follow in the fall. Teachers and homeschool groups are invited to use the storybook trail and its corresponding standards-based activities for the classroom or virtual learning opportunities for students. The Storybook Trail is free to the public and accessible seven days a week.  

“We are excited to have this opportunity to offer a new, immersive way for young readers to experience the stories of the Smokies in a way that brings them to life on the trail,” said GSMNP Superintendent Cassius Cash.   

The project is made possible thanks to a partnership between Great Smoky Mountains Association, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, and it is funded by a grant secured by the UT Extension Office through the Juanita H. Fasola Foundation Inc.

“Through this partnership we are excited to provide an opportunity for families, teachers, and students to explore, learn, and meet their curricular goals while having fun in our national park,” said Jessica Gardner, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent at UT-TSU Extension-Cocke County. “It is a great opportunity to get out and enjoy nature, get some exercise, enjoy a story written by our talented local authors, and learn something new.”

The spring book lineup includes We’re Going to the Mountains by Steve Kemp, April 3–16; The Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball by Lisa Horstman, April 17–30; Singing Creek by Morgan Simmons, May 1–14; and The Troublesome Cub by Lisa Horstman, May 15–30. On the first Saturday of each book’s rotation, the author will be present at the trailhead to interact with participants.

“It has been a pleasure to revisit my books in this new interactive format,” said Lisa Horstman, lead publication specialist for Great Smoky Mountains Association and the designer for the Storybook Trail signs. “It will be fun to see the books come to life out on the trail.”

The four books featured this spring are all published by Great Smoky Mountains Association and can be purchased at smokiesinformation.org. Follow the Storybook Trail of the Smokies Facebook page for more information on the books, author events, and activities to accompany each book. 

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