From Hands to Hearts, Wyoming Reads

May 17, 2023

Group of children in library holding picture books

Wyoming Reads first graders at Greybull Branch Library

On May 16, 2023 the 25th anniversary of Wyoming Reads occurred. Wyoming Reads is an initiative to promote literacy as all Wyoming first graders can attend a day in celebration of reading and receive their very own hardcover picture book. All 23 Wyoming counties participated in the 18th statewide Wyoming Reads event that originated in Casper 25 years ago. Approximately 7,100 first graders took part in the celebrations.

School buses lined up outside Laramie County Library in Cheyenne at the start of the day.

At Laramie County Library in Cheyenne, the day began with buses packed full of first graders arriving at their local library with staff and volunteers awaiting their arrival. Among the Wyoming State Library staff participating in the 2023 event were Jamie Markus, Brian Greene, Jessica Otto, Genesis Schell, and Savannah Erickson. The children then go to a storytime with a celebrity reader followed by the play, “The Good Queen Sue”. This play is dedicated to Sue Jorgensen, the individual that the event was created to honor.

Sue Jorgensen was a teacher who had a love for children and a passion for literacy. After her passing, her husband created the Sue Jorgensen Library Foundation in 1996. This led to the creation of Casper Cares, Casper Reads. With Casper Cares, Casper Reads as a successful launch point the event became known as Wyoming Reads and has been growing and reoccuring for 25 years.

Group of smiling children with two adults in bookmobile

Enjoying the event on the Laramie County Library System bookmobile.

Children sitting on floor of library.

Participants being read to at Natrona County Library.

Top-down view of two children sitting on floor. One holds an open book about frogs.

Student enjoying his Wyoming Reads selection at Albany County Public Library. The library invited frog expert Mason Lee from the University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute to talk about  frogs and toads.

This is the 18th year that Wyoming Reads has reached first graders in all areas around the State of Wyoming. The event also expanded this year to include the virtual schools; Connections, Tech Trep, and WyVA. 

Along with the day of celebration students got to choose a book to keep from ten book options, a new addition to the previous year’s choice of six books. The most popular book this year was I’m not scared, you’re scared by Seth Meyers while others choose from the other nine options listed below.

  • I Don’t Want to Read This Book by Max Greenfield
  • With Lots of Love by Jenny Torres Sanchez
  • Norman Didn’t Do It! (Yes, He Did.) by Ryan T. Higgins
  • Mars! Earthlings Welcome by Stacy McAnulty
  • Vampenguin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
  • Knight Owl by Christopher Denise
  • Everything Will Be OK by Anna Dewdney
  • Ribbit! The Truth About Frogs by Annette Whipple
  • Dragons Are The Worst! by Alex Willan
Large group of children outside brick building

Enjoying the day at Glenrock Branch Library.

Beth Cook, Deputy Director of Public Service at Laramie County Library said the best part of the event is hard to miss: “The excitement and high energy of all the children, and all the buses.”

This excitement carries past the day of Wyoming Reads itself as a book given to a first grader on a day that celebrates reading awards the milestone of children’s reading abilities, fosters the love of reading in many and promotes literacy and the future of the community for years to come.

Woman reading to group of children in library

Wyoming Reads at Lincoln County Library in Kemmerer.

Woman sitting on edge of stage reading to children seated on floor

Carbon County Library System Executive Director Maria Wenzel reading at the Jeffrey Center in Rawlins.

Children seated at benches looking at stage where other children hold up letters that read READ BOOKS

Outside at Moorcroft Branch Library.

Girl holds picture book

At Campbell County Public Library in Gillette — “I’m Not Scared, YOU’RE Scared” was this year’s most popular pick.

Actor in dragon costume on stage.

At Sweetwater County Library, the Green River High School Theatre department put together five plays based on some of this year’s books including this one based on “Knight Owl.”

Children seated at long tables eating lunch while video plays on large screen.

Tons of smiles and excitement at Niobrara County Library. The children enjoyed lunch while watching the original Wyoming Reads video. They also had a visit from a firefighter and got to spray the water hose before getting their books.

Students standing in row holding picture books

Students with their selections at Kaycee Branch Library.

Woman seating on couch reading picture book to children

Reading together at Sublette County Library in Pinedale.


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