Change in leadership for Roaring Fork Valley’s Raising a Reader

Cindy Blachly

After 10 years at Raising a Reader, director Rick Blauvelt is retiring. Cindy Blachly, formerly of Colorado Rocky Mountain School, is taking over as the new director.

“Cindy immediately understood the depth of what we’re trying to achieve, not just with delivering books, but encouraging parents to be more deeply engaged with their children around language,” Blauvelt said.

Raising a Reader has been around for 15 years delivering books to parents with small children from Aspen to Parachute.

Blachly herself enjoyed the program with her two sons when the program was just getting started.

“When my boys were young, my youngest had the red book bag. I really enjoyed all the different books that came into our home and spending time with the boys,” Blachly said.

Blachly ran Colorado Rocky Mountain School’s HS(2), a summer program for students from inner city schools, for the past decade, but wanted an opportunity to be more involved with the local community.

“Working with CRMS was very rewarding, especially the demographic we reached [with HS(2)], but I was really excited to get back to serving our community here in the Roaring Fork Valley,” Blachly said.

Raising a Reader’s classic program is a book exchange program. Families take four books home from school in red bags for a week, and get new books the next week.

But Blauvelt and the staff wanted to try something different, so they launched a pilot program in Parachute called 1-2-3 Let’s Read.

Instead of a book exchange, students between 4 and 6 received a new book every month from October through April, and got to keep the books.

The program was very helpful to families, particularly those who don’t have a lot of children’s books in their home.

“We know families who are most at risk have very few, if any, age-appropriate books for their children, and this starts to build a library for those children and their siblings,” Blachly said.

In this file photo, Rick Blauvelt, outgoing executive director of Raising A Reader, is surrounded by preschoolers from the Valley View Early Learning Center eager to receive their weekly red book bags.
Post Independent file

The program was well-received, Blachly said, but some families still enjoyed the red book bags.

“Some families really liked the red book bags, and others, the kids were really excited to keep the book,” Blachly said.

For teachers, the 1-2-3 Let’s Read takes less time than rotating book bags. It also gives teachers ways to work the material of the book into lessons.

“In the classroom and the home, students have activities that have to do with the same book in both places. The students get very excited about that overlap between the home and school,” Blachly said.

Schools will have the option to choose which program better suits their students this fall.

The important part is for families to give feedback about what is helping their children develop language skills, and spending time bonding, Blachly said.

For Blauvelt, helping parents engage with their children was the ultimate reward.

“My favorite memories were the families who gave feedback about reading with their children,” Blauvelt said.

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