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  • Caron Levis

Walking Together—From a Distance: Friends Step Up to Big Changes

"They kept walking, one hoof in front of the other,

until it felt like Jack's steps were Charlie's, and Charlie's steps were Jacks."

Dear Readers, I’ve been thinking a lot about walks, friends, and Big Changes.

The new picture book This Way, Charlie (with words by me and art by Charles Santoso) is inspired by the true story of a goat named Jack and a horse named Charlie who walked together every day for over fifteen years of friendship. In our book, the two animals become friends when Charlie is getting used to a big change in his body: he is losing his eyesight and can’t find his way around by himself like he used to. Jack, who is used to keeping to himself, makes a big change and offers to guide Charlie to his favorite field—and the two become walking buddies. Through their walks, the two friends navigate big changes and challenges with kindness and creativity—which is what I’m seeing kids and families doing all the time now.

Jack and Charlie walk to their favorite field.

I love taking walks with friends. Usually we walk side-by side, holding hands, or playing games, but right now we need to give each other space in order to keep everyone healthy. This is a big change and I have big feelings about it—I MISS walking with friends. Luckily, staying physically apart doesn’t mean you can’t keep taking walks together, you just have to get creative!

Below are some ideas you can try and I hope you'll share your ideas with me too. It’s also wonderful just to know that your friends are out there taking walks in their own, safe and healthy spaces right now. What does that friendly space feel like to you? For Jack and Charlie,

“Sometimes a quiet like warm milk filled the space between them.”

-from This Way, Charlie

Keep walking and reading, “one hoof in front of the other” friends,



Ideas for Walking Together—From a Distance

Note: Safety first! Kids should always be with their groan-up!

Take & Compare Notes: Take an artist (or mental) notebook with you to jot down the colors, shapes, animals, buildings, and objects you see. Then Call/video-call a friend later and see if what you saw was similar and different on your walks.

Eye Spy: Choose a path with your friend (Groan-ups guide of course!) Give your friend a 5-10 minute head start. Using your groan-ups phone to call or text, play eye spy!

Leave a Trail!

· If you have a snowy or muddy trail, leave foot prints for your friends to follow. (Idea by Tilly M. puppy age 15 weeks).

·Use tape or string to hang poems, drawings, wishes, notes from a tree, a post, a gate.

Use Sidewalk Chalk! (if you don’t have chalk, taping signs can work also)

· Leave a hopscotch game for your neighbors to use! (Idea by Ella, age 6 & mama Em)

· Write a joke or riddle for your friend to answer when they walk by! (Idea by Mason, age 3.5 & mama Em)

· Draw something in front of your friend’s house!

· Make an exercise block with instruction of what to do in each spot. (ex: ten jumping jacks! Run in place for 20 seconds! )

· Make a sound path (ex: crow like a rooster! Yodel! Sing your favorite song! )

Window Walks! Sometimes our bodies, situations, or the weather mean we can't physically walk outside. Use a window and trace a path with your finger, then follow it with you eyes and describe the colors, shapes, & all you see. Draw your window walk and share it with a friend.

Treasure hunt: Create a treasure hunt in your neighborhood by leaving clues with chalk or signs, around the neighborhood. See who discovers the drawing you left at the end!

Art Walk: Ask everyone who wants to participate in your neighborhood to put a picture or sculpture on their lawn for a day. In the city, ask your board or management if you can do this in the lobby, and make an online time sign up!

Sign Poems! Snap a photo or write down street, store, truck, and other signs, graffiti, you see. When you get home, make a poem out of it and send it to a friend. Ask them to send you one too! Here are some examples I made:

Rough Road Ahead.

Shoes Must be Worms at all Times.


Love, you go—



No Horn Blowing.

People May be Below.

Thank you, Please Come Again.

From Jack and Charlie:

· Exchange a Question of the Day with a friend, think of answers while you walk, then call/write to share them.

· Decide with a friend what to include in your walks: fast, slow, skips, hops, zig-zags?

· If you’re walking on the same block or park as a friend, instead of running to be near them, try a call and response and see how far away you can still hear each other! Make one up or use Jack and Charlie’s joke: “Hey, friend!”/“Hey is for horses!”

Share this blog with a friend and let me know how you are Walking Together—from a Distance! Use #ThisWayCharlie so I can share your ideas via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, the blog comment section (sign up is fast!) or via email


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