By Gary Mlodzik
Photographs by Gary Mlodzik

When I’ve nothing to occupy my mind or my hands, I resort to mischief. If I’d just had more books, I’d never have bothered with alcohol, drugs or pranks. I would read on any subject as I yearn for a more industrious, exciting life. —Paraphrased from Darker Still: A Novel of Magic Most Foul by Leanna Renee Hieber

Books really are a powerful treasure. Powerful enough to expand the imagination and destroy preconceived boundaries. Delivering treasure is what Kids Need to Read does! Two hundred books were delivered to both the Cortez Public Library and the Gunnison County Public Library in time for their summer reading programs. New adventures to occupy young minds!

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A treasure wagon, carefully disguised as a Mazda 3, brought more Grow Your Library adventures in literacy to Cortez and Gunnison in southwestern Colorado! The first stop was Cortez for a story time out in the fresh mountain air of the Farmers Market on Saturday July 23rd. Fifteen children came out to enjoy hearing Tina Mlodzik read Starfish on the Beach, which explains how anyone can make a difference in the world thru small deeds.

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Some of the children had never been to the beach, so speaking about ocean creatures really held their attention.

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With the eager help of Children’s Librarian Laura McHenry and local volunteers Gigi and Jim Baxstrom, the event went very smoothly. A big thank you to Library Director Eric Ikenouye for inviting Tina and I to the library craft fair and being a gracious host.

On July 28th, story time was in Gunnison, Colorado. A room full of 44 children joined the adventure, including 25 from Tenderfoot Child Care. It was a big commitment for those 25 as they had to choose between story time with KNTR or the last day of swim lessons. KNTR was privileged to have Tom and Lindy Schneider from Littleton, Colorado, respectively the author and illustrator of Starfish on the Beach, join the Grow Your Library team for story time. Lindy read the story with deep passion and Tom shared many starfish facts with all of the young patrons.

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The children in attendance at both events left with a Highlights magazine and a book of their very own to keep. It was heartwarming to see the children, parents, siblings and friends break off into groups and read together with their new found treasure. Whether it was the Highlights magazine or one of the new books, the children were enthralled by exciting new tales. In the end, that really is what we hope will happen.

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A big thank you to the Gunnison County library staff for hosting this fun-filled event. Children’s Librarian Kym McNamara and Jessica from Tenderfoot, we could not have done it without you!

Each child in attendance at Grow Your Library events has an opportunity to make a difference to their local library through a book donation in the child’s name. The parent and child just have to submit an email to KNTR with some personal thoughts, such as this heartfelt submission:

Hi! My name is Kai and I love going to the Gunnison County Library. I really love the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. I read it with my dad before bed a lot and it’s funny and makes us laugh. I also love Winnie the Pooh and have a few books about Christopher Robin and all his friends. Thanks for coming to our library and sharing [the] program with us! Lots of love —Jessica and Kai

Well done Kai! The Gunnison County Library will soon have a book donated by you with a bookplate in the front cover saying it was donated on your behalf! You have made a difference!

None of these events would be possible without the dedicated staff of KNTR, the many authors and publishers who donate their books to share with the libraries, Highlights for Children, and last but not least the donors who make financial contributions to the annual Grow Your Library fundraiser. Thank you all for making a difference.

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