The first-ever Downtown Phoenix StoryWalk will be installed at Arizona Center in the grotto area, a green space with trees, plants and meandering path. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Starting April 23, families in Downtown Phoenix will be able to let their imaginations run wild at Arizona Center with a new outdoor literacy installation called StoryWalk.

In partnership with Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI), Parallel Capital Partners, which owns and manages Arizona Center, is unveiling the first-ever Downtown StoryWalk at a Grand Opening Ceremony on Saturday, April 23 from 10-11 a.m.

Located in Arizona Center’s grotto area, a meandering, shaded path will take children and adults on a self-guided reading adventure amongst native plants, palm trees and flowering shrubs. Along the pathway, each page of a children’s storybook will be installed at a kid-friendly height on 18 sequenced signs.

A view of the pathway at Arizona Center, where rotating children’s storybooks will be installed at a kid-friendly height for the first Downtown Phoenix StoryWalk. (Photo: Fara Illich)

Downtown Phoenix Inc. is managing and maintaining the StoryWalk, selecting popular children’s books on a rotating basis. Each book will be offered in both English and Spanish, with educational prompts and questions on each page to enhance the shared reading experience.

To celebrate the opening, the first 50 guests will receive a free copy of Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, the first featured book, and get a chance to meet world-renowned author Monica Brown. She’ll be available to sign books and meet fans from 10-11 a.m.

There will also be a ribbon cutting with Mayor Kate Gallego, free treats from Bosa Donuts, a Cold Stone Creamery gift card giveaway, kite decorating kits and other family-friendly activities.

Paola Cicuttini, vice president of marketing and corporate communications for Parallel Capital Partners said the project was a “perfect fit” for Arizona Center, where the grotto is already a popular destination for both residents and visitors alike.

During the holiday season, Arizona Center’s grotto is decorated with lights and programmed with family-friendly activities, making it a popular destination for children and families. (Photo: Fara Illich)

“Families are an integral part of our community, so it’s important to ensure that we have plenty of experiences where children can learn and thrive,” she said. “Activities like the StoryWalk add to the appeal of Downtown Phoenix, and provide more opportunities for families to come and enjoy all that it has to offer.”

The StoryWalk is one of many new DPI events and projects geared toward families, including Winter Wanderland, DTPHX Loteria, Dia de los Niños Movie in the Park, and a new music installation across from the Phoenix Symphony, which is coming soon.

“Downtown Phoenix is a wonderful place for children and families to live and visit, with multiple parks, cultural amenities and wonderful schools,” said Sara Scoville Weaver, business development director for DPI. “Creating interactive, engaging streetscape installations has been a cornerstone of DPI’s work. This StoryWalk project is an exciting addition to that.”

The StoryWalk movement started in Montpelier, Vt. in 2007 when Anne Ferguson, a specialist in chronic disease prevention for the Vermont Department of Health, partnered with her local library. The goal was to encourage families to get outside and become active, while also engaging in literacy.

Since then, it’s spread to hundreds of cities across the country. The Phoenix Public Library created its first StoryWalk at Cesar Chavez Park in March 2021, and provided resources and guidance for this project.

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