Grab a book and take a walk

Toni Mendieta walks the book walk and talks the book talk with Winters youth
The participants in a recent Literary Trails, Teen Walk ‘n’ Talk pose for a photo near Putah Creek on March 13.

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Studies have shown that reading is one of the most important skills that children can possess. Evidence indicates that children who read everyday not only read better but have better communication, concentration, memorization skills and a greater knowledge on how things work.

Toni Mendieta, Branch Supervisor at the Winters Community Library, saw an area for growth within the Winter Community when she noticed that the reading levels and physical activity of children was being compromised by technology. Mendieta decided to take action and created a program called “Literary Trails: Teen Walk ‘n’ Talk,” that encourages both reading and exercise.

On Wednesday, March 13, five students joined Mendieta on a walk around town as they enjoyed a refreshing ice cream cone from Lester Farms Bakery and discussed their dream jobs, favorite animals, things they couldn’t live without and the reasons they love to read.

“I have two huge boxes of books, I can’t pick a favorite” said Nancy Murillo.

Sesar Murillo, Elizabeth Murillo, Alejandro Murillo, Owen Simmons and Nancy are all adoring fans of their weekly walks with Mendieta. Literary Trails is held every Wednesday, from 2-3 p.m. and is designed to get students outside and excited about reading.

“It’s so crazy, we aren’t even touching a book while we are out on our walks but just talking about the worlds and characters that are in the books makes me feel like we are really there,” said Simmons.

While getting lost in a world of books is rewarding, the world these students live in is far superior. It is a world where Sesar aspires to be an immigration lawyer, Nancy a librarian, Elizabeth an artist, Alejandro a professional soccer player and Simmons a board game designer.

So where do these aspirations come from?

“Right now we are reading Madeleine L’engle’s, A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel,” said Mendieta.

To be sure, Mendieta has created a program that is inspiring students to think beyond the present and learn from the fictional characters that live within the books they read. Just like Meg, the main character from A Wrinkle in Time, these students are learning to overcome the constant desire for conformity and appreciate their own uniqueness as individual’s.

For its participants, Literary Trails, Teen Walk ‘n’ Talk has come to represent more than improving reading levels and exercise. As children learn to read they will begin to develop an accurate awareness about themselves and the world around them. Reading is a powerful tool and Mendieta has created a program that evokes excitement and encourages the youth to take advantage of all the benefits reading offers.

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