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.
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.
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
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.