Literacy begins early, and at your Garfield County Libraries |

Literacy begins early, and at your Garfield County Libraries

Kelsy Been
Garfield County Public Library District
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Emily Hisel Garfield County Public Library DistricTwo patrons of the Rifle Branch Library explore an interactive learning display in the children's area of the library. Research shows that early learning environments play a major role in literacy development in young children.

Did you know that babies are learning to read before they can say “mommy” or “daddy”? It’s pretty amazing: babies are learning to comprehend words spoken to them before they are able to produce their own.

This means that learning to read begins at birth, and that’s why a language-rich environment and engaging activities are crucial to early literacy development.

Garfield County Libraries are committed to supporting early literacy development for kids. We offer storytime programs for children at all six libraries that introduce children to wonderful books.

In 2011, the libraries launched a new program called “Books for Babies.” It acquaints parents of newborns with the important role they play in the development of their children. More than 1,200 births are anticipated in Garfield County this year, and Garfield County Libraries and its foundation have partnered with local pediatricians to present all new parents with a “Books for Babies” kit containing a bilingual board book, a library card application, and a variety of brochures (in English and Spanish) with reading tips and early literacy information from nationally recognized educational organizations.

Garfield County Libraries is also a key partner with Raising A Reader, an early literacy program that provides book sets to preschools, commercial day care centers, and home day care providers. Children take book bags home each week to share with their families. The children practice borrowing books from October to March, and then each April they visit their local library to receive a special blue book bag and a library card.

Finally, Garfield County Libraries has created physical spaces equipped with an abundance of built-in literacy activities and play materials in the children’s sections at the new Parachute and Rifle branch libraries.

These interactive early learning spaces resulted from research showing:

• Children learn through play.

• Libraries often serve as a child’s first classroom.

• Effective early learning environments play a major role in promoting critical skills for early literacy development in young children.

As the Garfield County Libraries continue to build new facilities, each are being designed with a children’s section conducive to early literacy development.

The long-term objective of these programs and physical spaces is a community-wide increase in early literacy development and, as a result, improved student performance.

On average, Garfield County students of all ages scored in the 20th percentile on the CSAP reading section the last three years. These results are particularly striking when compared to the Aspen School District – located less than 60 miles away – whose students scored in the 95th percentile and above in reading.

High-achieving students have access to an abundance of enriching resources that are lacking in our communities. Garfield County Libraries can provide an essential link to educational success by providing early literacy development opportunities for young children.

Parents, remember that your baby is listening even before he or she can talk. What your baby hears and sees now will affect the child’s future. Bring your child into the library and take advantage of the early literacy development resources available to you and your child.

The Honey Dewdrops, winners of A Prairie Home Companion’s “Talented People in their 20s” contest, are back at the Garfield County Libraries. Their honest melodies get rave reviews and Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine says, “their talent is such that it’s quite possible that a new band recording in the year 2020 might cite The Honey Dewdrops as a prime influence.”

Writing and singing in the veins of folk and old country music, the Dewdrops entwine harmony singing with tight instrumentation, and craft songs that are simple and fine-tuned. They are “the musical equivalent to a couple that finishes each other’s sentences” says Shawn Underwood, from

The Honey Dewdrops showcased their deep rooted harmonies at the Rifle and Silt Branch Libraries in July. The duo was received with great fervor by the crowds there, and the libraries are excited to have them back.

The Dewdrops performed last night at the New Castle Branch Library, and have one last show at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Glenwood Springs Branch Library. For more information call 945-5958 or visit

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