Summer is sweet, and summer reading sweetens the deal

by Katherine Weadley, Programs and Outreach Supervisor

Summertime. It’s picnics, wildflowers, stargazing, road trips, hiking, camping, barbecues, farmer’s markets and garden harvests. Add to that list: the satisfaction of reading for personal joy and taking part in Library programs.

The Library’s Summer Reading Program is here, with rewards for all ages: adults, teens, kids, toddlers and babies. For students, summer reading is essential to avoid the “summer slide”. Studies show that kids who read for summer enjoyment return to school in the fall primed and ready to learn (for others, it can take weeks to catch up).

For adults, summer reading stimulates lifelong learning and connects us with a community of fellow readers. Multiple studies show the benefits of reading: it’s relaxing, reduces stress, promotes good health, and keeps our creativity and memory skills sharp. 

If that weren’t enough, we’re here to sweeten the deal — with prizes! We call them reading rewards. Log your time online, anywhere, 24/7. You’ll soon find yourself eagerly anticipating your next reward. Before long, you’re finding time for reading you didn’t know you had (another great benefit of participating).

“Oceans of Possibilities” is this year’s Summer Reading Program theme, reflected in our prizes and programs. Kids: earn wooden sailboat kits, shark gliders, plus free books. For teens: how about a jellyfish lamp, a shark hoodie, or a 4-pack of Denver Aquarium tickets? Adults: gift certificates to your favorite local businesses, and a chance to win a Kindle Fire tablet.

Then there are the activities! For adults—journaling and ocean poetry in the great local outdoors. Teens: glow-in-the-dark ocean painting, ocean games, and squid dissection. Kids: take-home science projects and the “Little Dolphin Rescue” Book Club. Something’s happening nearly every day this summer!

  • Read in your favorite outdoor spaces. Listen to books while on your favorite walking trail, or while cleaning house or washing the car.
  • Use FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom to read aloud with grandkids across the miles. Or read aloud or discuss books with adult friends who are close or far away.
  • Create a Book Club of Two: challenge a friend, near or far, to read a shared book. Set a weekly page goal, then discuss together. 
  • Have kids and grandkids read recipes while you’re in the kitchen making meals.

New this year: we know summer is a busy season for many adults. Besides reading, you can earn points by attending summer reading events at the Library. Log your attendance just like you would your reading time.

Once you start, you’ll find it’s easy to weave reading into your daily routines:

Browse the Library shelves and you’ll find plenty to keep you reading all summer long. Plus, our extensive Digital Collections offer the convenience of downloading books, audiobooks, graphic novels and comic books 24/7 from anywhere. New to digital? Just ask and we’ll get you started.

Look for full details about the 2022 Summer Reading Program at Sign up, read, and relax all summer long. Thank you to the Library Friends & Foundation and donors for making the Summer Reading Program possible.

It was a “Dolly” good time

Thanks to everyone who joined the festivities on May 20 as we celebrated the launch of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in the Estes Valley, set to deliver FREE monthly books to local kids under 5. Find out more about this program, made possible by Imagination Library Colorado, the State of Colorado, and a generous local donor to the Library Friends & Foundation.

Families signing up for the program, and kids enjoying face painting and balloon twisting.
Local band Lost Penny celebrated with live music, including their original song “Dolly Do”.
Kids painted oceans in the Makerspace for this year’s Summer Reading Program theme.
Every child signed up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library receives The Little Engine that Could as their very first book.
Nadine Sekerez from the band Lost Penny poses with Dolly.
Independence Day:

the Library will be closed on Monday, July 4.

Children’s book illustrator Rafael López visits Elementary School

On Monday, May 9, students at the Estes Park Elementary School were treated to a visit by award-winning children’s book illustrator and artist Rafael López. López is the recipient of the 2019 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. His award-winning illustrations bring diverse characters to children’s books, and he is driven to produce and promote books that reflect and honor the lives of all young people.

The visit was made possible through collaboration among the Estes Valley Library and the Estes Park School District, with sponsorship by the Estes Park Woman’s Club.

“We’re grateful to the Woman’s Club for their sponsorship of this event,” said Melanie Kozlowski, the Library’s Early Literacy Librarian. “Author visits are exciting and meaningful for the Library and Estes Park Schools. Students gain a personal experience alongside a working artist. And they see firsthand that the books they love are made by regular people who use their creative gifts to help make the world a better and more colorful place.”

Let’s Celebrate Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library on Friday, May 20

by Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian, and Kelly Pemrick, Imagination Library Coordinator for Estes Valley Library

One great idea. 27 years in the making. Its arrival deserves a party. And you’re invited!

Last week, we shared the exciting news that our Estes Valley Library has achieved affiliate status with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. With this milestone—we’re ready to sign up all local kids to receive free books mailed monthly to their homes. These books are age appropriate and chosen by childhood experts, all ready to delight kids and boost childhood literacy and learning development.

Since starting in 1995, the Imagination Library has been expanding nationally. Its Estes Valley arrival is an occasion to celebrate. Join us next Friday afternoon, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Library. It’s a party for everyone—all ages—and even if you don’t have kids at home.

Drop by and check out the fun! Here’s an overview of what you can look forward to:

Live Music. Our special guests are Lost Penny, an acoustic Americana duo based right here in Estes Park. They’ll be performing a variety of songs, including their newest single, “Dolly Do” written by Nadine Sekerez and inspired by the philanthropy and resolve of Dolly Parton. Have a seat and enjoy the music!

Signing Up Kids. Got kids under 5 living here in the greater Estes Valley? Visit our imagination Library table and we’ll get them signed up to start receiving books. The process is easy. And if your kids are 5 or older, we’ll share information about other library resources to keep them reading, learning and thriving.

Family Fun Activities. An Imagination Library party deserves some sparkle and creativity! Kids can take part in face painting or take home a balloon-twisted design, courtesy of Bridget’s Balloons. And from 11 to noon, visit the Makerspace upstairs for “Make an Ocean!”—we’ll have all the supplies for kids’ make-and-take art, perfect for ages 2 to 5. 

Get your Photo with Dolly. With her very busy schedule, Dolly won’t be attending in person, but you can take your picture next to her life-size photo likeness. Your friends on social media will be very impressed!

Become part of the Summer Reading Community (all ages). May 20 is also the kickoff for the Summer Reading Program (with the 2022 theme, Oceans of Possibilities). It’s important for kids—studies confirm that summer reading keeps kids school-ready when they return in the fall. AND it’s for us grown-ups too, with programs and prizes, and the opportunity to be part of a community of like-minded readers and lifelong learners. Join us and we’ll tell you all about it!

No sign-up is necessary to attend the Imagination Library Launch Celebration on Friday, May 20. Drop in anytime from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Let’s celebrate together! And thank you to Imagination Library Colorado, the State of Colorado, and a generous donor to our local Library Friends & Foundation.

May is Mental Health Month

Sign up here for any of these Health Happens at the Library programs

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

We’re an Imagination Library affiliate!
Dolly’s vision will bring books to kids in the Estes Valley.

Imagination Library Comes to Town
FAQs & Sign-up

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library comes to the Estes Valley

by Melanie Kozlowski, Early Literacy Librarian, and Kelly Pemrick, local Imagination Library Coordinator

Melanie Kozlowski and Kelly Pemrick

Just last week, it became official. Our Library is now an affiliate of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, the preeminent early childhood book gifting program in the world. Dolly’s amazing vision is ready to bring books, joy and learning into the homes, hands, and hearts of every child under 5 in our mountain valley. Picture a child’s delight in discovering a brand-new high-quality book—with their name—mailed to them each month

We adults know Dolly as a renowned singer, songwriter, actress, producer, businesswoman, humorist, and humanitarian. Our newest generation will know Dolly as perhaps the world’s most famous librarian. 

Growing up, Dolly Parton remembers being “dirt poor.” Her father was hard-working, but tough circumstances never gave him the opportunity to read or write. Many years later, Dolly was motivated to make sure kids have access to books in the way she wished her father could have had. In 1995, she started the Imagination Library in Sevier County, Tennessee.

“We just started this in my home county,” she remembers. “We thought, ‘Well, maybe if we’re lucky it might go a couple counties over.’”

Dolly Parton reads “Coat of Many Colors,” the one hundred millionth book donated by Parton’s nonprofit Imagination Library, during a ceremony in the Great Hall, February 27, 2018. Photo by Shawn Miller.

By 2000, the program was so successful it was being replicated nationwide. Today, it has mailed well over a million books to kids in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and the U.K.

Thanks to this inspiring program, we’re ready to sign up every local child under five—including newborns. Those are vital years: 90% of all brain structure development takes place before age 5. Kids who aren’t read to hear only around 4,600 words. Kids who are read to daily have heard almost 300,000.

Once kids are signed up, they’ll start getting high-quality books matched to their age level. The books are carefully chosen by a panel of learning experts. And the first book they receive is always “The Little Engine that Could”. 

It’s a perfect fit for the Library’s mission and Operating Plan, with its strong focus on local childhood literacy.

There is no cost to families. The local program is made possible by two sources: 50% from Imagination Library Colorado (with funding from the State of Colorado) which has provided us tremendous guidance and encouragement. Another 50% is from a generous anonymous local donor, who worked with our Library Friends & Foundation to pursue this passion.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this is one of the most precious things,” says Dolly Parton. “If you’re lucky and fortunate enough to be in a position to help, you should help.”

We are so honored to expand the footprint of Dolly’s vision to our special corner of the world. All local kids under 5 are eligible for this program: Sign Up Here

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in the Estes Valley: FAQs

Click Here to go to the sign-up page

What is the story behind this amazing program?

Dolly Parton’s father never learned to read, and when she was growing up she witnessed how huge the impact of illiteracy was on his life. Inspired by this experience, Dolly decided to make sure the children in her community had more access to books than her father had as a child.  In 1995, she started the Imagination Library program in Sevier County, Tennessee where she grew up. By 2000 it was so successful that they began working to replicate it on a national level. By 2003, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had mailed one million books. It is now in five countries.

Is my child eligible to be signed up?

Do you have a child under 5 living in the Estes Valley? We’ll happily sign them up to receive a high quality, developmentally appropriate book in the mail (USPS)–one book each month! Your cost: nothing! Your child will receive books until their fifth birthday when they graduate from the program. Their first book (called the welcome book) is always The Little Engine That Could. Their last book, sent when they turn five, is always Look Out Kindergarten Here I come!

May I sign up my newborn?

Absolutely! Babies in arms may not be able to form words, but their minds are developing. A child is never too young to be read to.

What if I have several children under five? May they each sign up?

Yes — we love for each child to receive their own books — so they can experience the joy of a book with their name in the mailbox! AND the books are different, based on the year the child was born –making sure each book is developmentally appropriate for their age. This means that siblings who are different ages will receive different books. Their first book, however, will always be The Little Engine That Could regardless of their age. So siblings will each receive a copy of the same welcome book and then receive books based on their respective age groups after that. Twins will receive the same book each month. 

How is the program funded?

The local program is made possible by two sources: 50% from Imagination Library Colorado (funded through the State of Colorado), which has provided us tremendous guidance and encouragement. Another 50% is from a generous anonymous local donor, who worked with our Library Friends & Foundation to pursue this passion.

How can I sign up my child?

Join us for the Launch Celebration at the Library on Friday, May 20 from 11 AM to 1 PM (right after storytime). We’ll be excited to sign up your children! We’ll also have kids’ activities and live music, including the original song “Dolly Do” by local band Lost Penny. No sign-up necessary to attend the celebration. EVERYONE is invited!

Estes Grows Readers

Celebrating early childhood literacy, as we build a bright future for all local kids.
April is the Month of the Young Child.

Resources for Early Childhood