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ARL StoryWalk®: Create-It-Yourself

Supplies Needed

  • Three copies of the book you would like to use. ($30-50)
  • Microsoft Publisher or other publishing program
  • Lamination ($2-3 per page | $30-80 per book)
  • Stakes
  • Velcro (sticky back, industrial strength)

Recommended Titles

Libguide Templates

Below are some examples of what we did with StoryWalks®, available for you to download.  The first one is a sample of the introduction pages we use at the beginning of our StoryWalks.  The other two are templates we used to make the StoryWalks themselves.

StoryWalk Intro Page - Watauga County version

StoryWalk Template - Large (22"x28")

StoryWalk Template - Medium (18"x24")

1. Deconstructing the Books

To start with, you will need three copies of any StoryWalk title.  Two copies are needed to cut pages out of for the StoryWalk.  The third is needed to keep track of the page order, as picture books usually do not contain page numbers.  The third copy is also useful for replacing a StoryWalk page that has been damaged or has gone missing.  If you need to save money, wish to get further use out of this third copy, or want to use a copy already in the system, catalog it as a non-circulating storytime book, or whatever equivalent status your library uses.

For cutting the books up, we use a cutting mat, a metal ruler (ours is 18" long) and an X-Acto knife.  Measure to make sure the top of the page and the inside edge of the two page spread are exactly perpendicular. Book pages usually are not perfect parallelograms, so this will make it easier to glue the pages next to each other.  The artwork will not line up perfectly even if you have made exact cuts, as the art is designed to be viewed in a bound book.  This is not an issue when you look at a StoryWalk poster from a normal viewing distance, so focus on lining the pages up evenly.

2. Creating Your Posters

Open your template in Microsoft Publisher, and use "Save As" to make this a new document that will not overwrite the template.  If you are not using a template, create a new document with the dimensions you require for the poster.  Start with the page that will begin your storywalk, usually a title page.  To fill a two-page space when using the title page, you can use an acknowledgement page from the book, or an illustrated page that isn't a part of the story.  Another option is to take a blank page from the front or back (usually a solid color in picture books), cut it lengthwise and use the two pieces to frame the title page on each side.

Now, take your ruler and measure a page from your book.  You'll want to make a blank box (from the Objects toolbar) centered in your poster.  This will be the space you glue the pages onto in your poster. To size it properly, right click on the box, select Format Autoshape, go to the Size tab and put in the measurements you got from your page, multiplying the width by two since you'll have two pages per poster.  Once this is done, shrink the box's height and width by half an inch.  This is needed so that the pages easily cover the white space when it comes time to glue them on, and are surrounded only by border.

Centering the box is a bit more complicated, but with a little math and some experience you'll be fine.  There are two methods we use to center the box:

  • If your template does not already have a box, or you wish to make a new one, here's what you do:
    • Right click on your box, select Format Autoshape, and go to the Layout tab.
    • Go to Position On Page, select Horizontal, make sure it is measuring from Top Left Corner, and use the following formula: Total width of the poster - width of box / 2  (for example: with a 28" wide poster using a box 20 inches wide, the horizontal would be (28 - 20)/2 = 4)
    • Vertical is a bit more complicated, as it depends on the amount of white space you have dedicated to the poster.  For example, our large template posters are 22" tall, but when you remove the space dedicated to the Literacy Tips/Reading Prompts, it's 14".  But wait, we have a 1" margin due to the thin green border!  So the formula would be 14 - (height of box) - 1.  Thus, with 9" tall pages, you'd want your box positioned 4" from the top.
  • If your template already has a centered box, this becomes easier. Under Format AutoShape in the Size tab, make your alterations, then halve the amount and add or subtract that to the same dimension in Layout.  For example, if my box is 20" wide, and I have pages that are 9 1/2" wide, I would shrink the box size by two inches to 18" (for a half inch overlap on each side), then add 1" to the horizontal position on page.  If I were enlarging the box by two inches rather than shrinking it, I would subtract 1" from the position.

Usually the border should surround the pages by one inch in each direction, but you may want to make a larger border for small pages, or a smaller border for especially large pages.  There are many ways to make a border in Publisher.  You can get quite creative using objects, clip art and even your own creations with the art tools.  If you're not experienced with Publisher, take some time to play around, and look online for some tutorials.

One simple way to make an attractive border is to create another box, an inch larger than your white box.  Right click on it and Format Autoshape.  From there, click on Add Color, then Fill Effects.  You'll see a variety of options to create gradients, two toned borders, and so forth.

Another useful tip: has a "Look Inside" feature for most children's books.  You can copy the image using the "Snipping Tool" in Windows, then bring that image into Publisher!  This gives you a great idea of what your border will look like around the pages of your book.  Using "Sample Fill Color" will allow you to copy the exact shade of a color from the book image, which can be useful in making borders.  Just remember not to use the book image itself in your poster, as that violates copyright.

Remember, the goal here is to showcase the book's pages without taking the reader's focus away.  Avoiding white page on white poster or border is good.  Try using color(s) that appear in the illustrations, but are not the predominant background color.  You can also use programs like Photoshop or MS Paint if you need design options that are not available in Publisher, and then import what you've made.

Now that your pages and border are set up, you need to add whatever else is needed.  One thing you should definitely add is the title and author of the book, centered below the book pages.  You can do this over the border or below it.  It's also a good idea to add a page number to each poster, so the reader knows they are following the story correctly.  Then, add whatever else you need.  Want a border on the edge of the poster?  Adding literacy tips and activity prompts?  Need your library logo in there?  Putting an image of a giant bear in the background, holding the book as though he's about to eat it?  Make sure it's all on that first page.  Then, simply use Duplicate Page to bring all those elements into a new page, and keep doing this until you've created all the poster pages that your book requires. 

Once the pages are created, remember to go through afterwards and change the page number for each page of your poster.  A useful tip is to add a text box inside the white space where the pages are going, and write the first few words of the leftmost page going on each poster.  This will help you keep the pages in order when you are pasting them on.


If you're using Literacy Tips and Activity Prompts (and we recommend it!), here are some ideas:

  • Have your title (or first) page contain a description of what literacy tips and activity prompts are, or what their source is. See our template for an example.
  • Duplicate that page, go to the new page created in Publisher, delete the descriptions and the plural "s" from Literacy Tips and Activity Prompts.  Then, keep duplicating the new page you just edited until you have all the necessary poster pages.  Now you are ready to add your tips and prompts.

3. Printing Your Posters

  • Check your spelling and punctuation.
  • Adjust words so there's no hyphenation
  • Tips and prompts are centered (also try "Send to the Front" button)
  • Make sure all parts of your StoryWalk that need to be visible are showing properly.  One example: when doing fancier borders, it is easy to accidentally place art in front of the small title/author text box.
  • Page numbers are correct.
  • Book title and author is correct and centered.
  • The registered sign ® is after the word "StoryWalk" anytime its mentioned. (The registered sign is found under "Insert" and "Symbol". Use the and "Find" function under the "Edit" tab to find all mentions of the word "StoryWalk".)
  • The phrases "Literacy Tips" and "Activity Prompts" are only on the title page poster (where it explains what the tips and prompts are) and only the singular "Literacy Tip" and Activity Prompt" on the rest of the posters.
  • Make sure you have selected the proper printer, and that it is configured in Print Properties to print your StoryWalk® at the proper size.  Print at a high quality DPI (600 or higher) when creating posters two feet wide or larger.  Paper and ink can be expensive!

For printing our StoryWalk posters, we used the HP DesignJet T120 ePrinter. Click the following link for the data sheet for this printer.

If necessary, trim off any unneeded white space by the edges of your posters.  Large, laminated posters need about 2" of laminate border on each side, so you may need the space if putting the posters into permanent installations.

Paste the deconstructed pages onto the posters.  We use glue sticks, nothing fancy.  They just need enough hold to stay in place while going through the laminator.

Laminate your posters.  Remember to space out the posters a bit when feeding them through the laminator, so that you can trim them and still have a border.

Trim the laminate, leaving a 2" border on all four sides. You can leave a smaller border if the posters are single page sized.

Go put up your StoryWalk®!  Provide some protection from the elements if you can, laminate is not inpenetrable.  Try to clean the posters once a month or so if you are leaving your StoryWalk up for an extended period of time, as they will attract dirt and grass clippings.  Leaving surveys and promotional material for the public at the end or beginning of your StoryWalk is a great idea.  Remember the spirit of StoryWalks and have fun!