The Hailey Public Library has offered the Adult Summer Reading program for many years. Last year, Programs & Engagement Manager Kristin Fletcher invited The Community Library and Bellevue Public Library to join in the fun.
“The valley’s three libraries each serve unique communities but those communities are connected in many ways, through work, recreation, schools, cultural offerings and so much more,” Fletcher said. “It just made sense to collaborate and make adult summer reading an inclusive, community-wide program.”
The 2022 Valley-Wide Adult Summer Reading program runs Memorial Day to Labor Day. Anyone over the age of 18 can register online or in-person.
This years theme is “The Place We Live: Reading and Knowing Home.” While last year’s program encouraged readers to explore new genres and travel to different cultures around the world, this time around, Community Library Programs and Education Director Martha Williams is inviting participants to focus on the area’s rich local history.
“[It’s] almost like a stay-cation,” Williams said. “Let’s dig into our roots, into this place, and understand where we are. We hope that those who have moved here in the last few years and longtime locals alike will discover new things about our valley’s history, culture and environment, and be able to connect over these shared experiences.”
Fletcher believes if adults read more, it will inspire children to follow suit, allowing them to enjoy literature as families.
“Reading is the key to lifelong learning,” Fletcher said. “We want the Wood River Valley to be known as a community where everyone reads.”
Williams understands why some people may stray from reading as they get older.
“It’s easy to get caught up in school and work and life, and these days our phones and other technology are easy to turn to,” Williams said. “Reading, though, offers us places to enter during these moments. ... We never seem to regret entering these worlds, especially as opposed to scrolling through Instagram or the day’s headlines. I have never heard someone say, ‘I wish I read less.’ Have you?”
After registering, participants will receive a passport. For each book read or activity completed, they will get a page in their passport stamped.
“A passport ‘allows passage’ to unexpected adventures,” Fletcher said. “Each page offers a new journey. Maybe it’s an invitation to read a local author or an award-winning Hispanic writer. Maybe it’s a nature guide or a mystery.”
The program is offered in English and Spanish. Over a third of the population in Hailey is Hispanic and that number is even higher in Bellevue.
“It only makes sense that all members of our community feel welcome to participate,” Fletcher said.
The program extends past just reading books. The passport includes options for many activities to learn about local history, such as visiting an historical museum, watching parades and attending a talk about the area’s hot springs resorts, mining history or the history of skiing in Sun Valley.
Participants can enter into a raffle to win prizes, which include gift cards to The Gold Mine thrift store or Iconoclast Books.
Some lucky readers could even end up having dinner at the historic Ernest Hemingway house in Ketchum. Since taking over ownership of the handsome home perched over the Big Wood River, The Community Library has kept it intact, keeping the same feel as when the mythic writer still lived there.
“We live in a remarkable and caring community but have been through a lot these past few years,” Fletcher said. “Our population has grown rapidly. Newcomers and even longtime locals may know little about our cultural and natural history. Through this program, we hope to bring attention to this special place we call home and challenge folks to explore it in new ways through reading and participating in community activities.” ￼
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