Garfield County Public Libraries’ summer reading challenge is underway for residents of all ages |

Garfield County Public Libraries’ summer reading challenge is underway for residents of all ages

Garfield County Public Libraries have their summer reading program in full swing under the theme "Tails and Tales."

Animal lovers and bookworms alike are in for a treat with this year’s theme for the Garfield County Public Library summer reading program, “Tails and Tales.”

“We have some virtual events and some in-person to stagger back into that live presentation, live workshop kind of event,” Alex Garcia-Bernal, events and education coordinator for GarCo public libraries, said. “We went into programs that have to do with animals, pets. … It has a heavy focus on kids, but we are trying to spread it to have events that are interesting to all ages and families.”

After signing up at any of the library branches in Garfield County, participants of all ages can begin logging their reading time, and for every 20 minutes, they can go to a branch for a small prize. The community reading goal for all six branches is 750,000 minutes.

“Reading is much more than sitting down with a book, and I think that’s what overwhelms people. But you can listen to an audiobook, the logs are by minutes so it doesn’t matter what you read,” Garcia-Bernal said. “You can read a magazine, a comic book, a children’s book if you’re learning (another language) and are reading children’s books to help you with that, that will count. It doesn’t mean you have to pick up a giant novel and sit there and finish the book.”

Some of the events include meet and greets with shelter pets from the Rifle Animal Shelter and CARE shelter in Glenwood Springs, which will be socially distanced in person, and virtual Zoom meet and greets through the Reptile Discovery program and the downtown Denver aquarium.

Amy Tonozzi, the youth services coordinator for the Rifle library branch, said that after having to make the switch last summer to all virtual events when they were already planned to be in person, she can’t wait to bring community members together through this year’s summer reading program.

“It’s always been fun every year to see how many people we can sign up. And every year try to sign up as many as possible to get kids reading over the summer, so I’ve always enjoyed that part,” Tonozzi said. “Having all the kids come in and watch a fun, quality program and not having to pay for it or anything like that, that’s been great watching that over the years.”

For those who complete the 1,000 minutes of reading, they will be entered into a drawing for several grand prizes meant to get families out and about in the community. There’s an option to stay overnight at the Sopris Alpaca Farm, go on a horseback riding family outing, visit the Rifle Fish Hatchery or go on a fly-fishing float trip for two.

“The prizes are not age specific. They’re designed so if a teen, a child or an adult wins, they can use the prize for the whole family. … We thought that people have been pretty cooped up, so we can bring them something they can go outside for,” Garcia-Bernal said.

Tonozzi said one of the best ways to encourage children to read is if they see their family members doing it. While the program is meant to minimize learning loss from students over the summer, she said the reading challenge is a great way to connect with the community and as a family, too.

“I think it’s important for everybody to read. And also it’s important for children to see their parents, their grandparents, their siblings reading. That’s a really important aspect of early literacy,” Tonozzi said. “And we’re trying to get so many minutes as a community this summer, and I think that’s just a nice community aspect to it too.”

Reporter Jessica Peterson can be reached at 970-279-3462 or

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