Music City Sweetheart Walk

Participants in the Nashville Public Library’s “Music City Sweetheart Walk” can start at the main library, read the first four pages of “I Really Want the Cake” by Simon Philip and receive a map to the locations that offer additional pages from the book. Families can also scan a QR code to bring up a map of the walk on their phone.

Nashville has lots of tours — country music tours, honky-tonk tours, outdoor art tours, historic tours, restaurant tours and more.

And now a new Nashville Public Library “Music City Sweetheart Walk” offers a sweet alternative for families looking for a fresh take on summer reading.

The storybook walk starts at the main library at 615 Church St., where families can read the first four pages of the delightful “I Really Want the Cake” by Simon Philip and receive a map to the locations that offer additional pages from the book. You can also scan a QR code to bring up a map of the walk on your phone.

The eight “Sweet Spot” stops, which include D’Andrews Bakery, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream and The Peanut Shop, each post an additional page from the book outside their business for storybook walkers to read.

The self-guided walking tour is such a fun way to encourage literacy by giving families a chance to explore downtown in a different way and maybe enjoy some sweets along the way.

“The first four pages are at the main library, and remaining pages are spread out between eight businesses around town,” library spokesperson Ed Brown said. “We’re doing this to encourage literacy, health — with the walking — and investing in local businesses — sampling tasty treats.”

Businesses displaying pages from the book are: D’Andrews Bakery and Cafe, 555 Church St.; Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, 5054 Broadway Place (in the outdoor shopping area of Fifth + Broadway; Mattheessen’s at 123 Second Ave. N.; Leon’s Candy, 138 Second Ave. N., Suite 102; Legendairy Milkshake Bar, 171 Third Ave. N.; Bagelshop, 401 Union St.; The Peanut Shop, 19 Arcade Alley; and Frothy Monkey, 235 Fifth Ave. N.

The Sweetheart Walk is just one part of the 2021 Summer Reading Challenge, which is hoping to engage more people than ever this summer. You can earn points on the walk, just like you can for any other reading you do this summer.

“You’re never too old to engage in reading and learning, and the Summer Reading Challenge is most definitely not a ‘for kids only’ event,” the library description says, noting that there are prizes for all ages. The annual reading challenge averages more than 10,000 registered participants each year.

The reading challenge is not just the traditional sitting down and reading a book — you can count almost any reading as part of your challenge, everything from reading the historic markers during a morning jog to logging the time spent perusing email at work.

“There’s no wrong way to engage in reading and literacy during the Summer Reading Challenge,” Brown said.

“For teens, it could be time spent writing a song or playing a session of Dungeons & Dragons with friends.

“Or little ones can count the time they spend playing, singing songs and telling stories to their parents or friends.

“Of course, if you prefer just cuddling up with a good old-fashioned print book and reading for a few hours, we’re always happy to count that, too,” he said.

Getting started with the challenge is simple. Register at https://library.nashville.org/summerchallenge and print out a reading log or track your minutes online.

Once you hit 600 minutes, head to your library (in person or curbside) to receive your prize. Babies and toddlers get an egg shaker, kids get a kazoo (with a bonus prize for caregivers), while teens and adults get a phone charging cable that fits Android and Apple phones.

Six hundred minutes is all you need to complete the challenge, but library officials say you don’t have to stop there. Continuing on to 1,200 and then 1,800 minutes nets free coupons for ice cream, coffee and more at local businesses around Nashville.

You can register any time between now and Aug. 21, and log any minutes you’ve racked up since May 3.

Cassie Welch, children’s librarian at the Edmondson Pike branch and coordinator of the summer reading program, says the “challenge” can be informal.

“We recognize that it can be bothersome to log minutes as soon as you’re done reading, especially for parents and caregivers with little ones. That’s why we don’t want this to be a formal, by-the-rules contest. We want everyone to approach it their way, at their pace, and have fun,” she said.

Readers are also invited to share favorite moments and new discoveries on social media using the hashtag #nplsummer.

Mary Hance, who has four decades of journalism experience in the Nashville area, writes a weekly Ms. Cheap column. She also appears on Thursdays on “Talk of the Town” on NewsChannel 5. Reach her at mscheap@mainstreetmediatn.com and follow her on Facebook as Facebook.com/mscheap.

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