CRANFORD - The Cranford Public Library, in collaboration with the Cranford Unity Project and Downtown Cranford, created a special “Story Walk” in February that focused on themes of race and friendship.

The event drew hundreds of “listeners,” including dozens of troops from the Girl Scouts of Cranford Service Unit 48. Story Walk participants visited different downtown locations and at each stop they learned a little more about the story which featured a tale of friendship that crossed racial divides.

Ms. Lauren Antolino, Children’s Librarian at the Cranford Public Library, explained that the Cranford Public Library had already created two successful story walks in conjunction with programs sponsored by Downtown Cranford and the Cranford Unity Project.

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“I suggested a few titles that I thought would be a good fit, identifying Jacqueline Woodson and E.B. Lewis' "The Other Side" as a top pick,” said Antolino. “Two girls of different races, Clover and Annie, live on opposite sides of a fence that segregates their town. Though they've each been warned to never cross the fence, the girls eventually forge a friendship while sitting on top of it. I love the hopeful message, and I wanted children to end the walk knowing that they have the power to enact change in ways both big and small.”

According to the release, many troops of all ranks used the Story Walk to hold socially-distanced outdoor meetings when they were able to discuss the book’s key messages of love and hope. 

Brownie Troop 40511 attended the Story Walk as its February meeting, and it was a great way for the Girl Scouts to spend time with their troop mates and have the opportunity to unpack the deep messages in the story. Daisy Troop 40901 also attended the Story Walk for its February meeting, and for these Kindergartners, the message of inclusivity, hope and love was well-received. 

“I liked that the little girls were strong and sat together even though people thought they shouldn’t because they were black and white," said Daisy Troop member Bridget Novick. "They did it anyway and didn’t care and that was okay." 

One of the goals of the Story Walk, which coincided with Black History Month, was to feature a message of strength and love told through the perspective of children. “The Other Side” is a story that seeks to empower children to be upstanders in situations of injustice and adversity.

About The Girl Scouts of Cranford

The Girl Scouts of Cranford boasts over 1,139 Girl Scout Members in 71 troops and Juliette’s, making it one of the largest non-profit organizations in town. The Cranford Service Unit is a part of the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (GSHNJ) Council, which is part of the Girl Scouts of the USA. If your family is interested in learning more about local Girl Scouts or to find out more information on the Girls Scouts of Cranford, please visit www.cranfordgirlscouts.com.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Special thanks to Kerry Rokicki for passing along the article information and photos.