Imagination Library celebrates 10,000th book

Tricia Widdows Schuster helps children pick a lollipop at the Grand Junction Imagination Library’s 10,000th book celebration.

Although neither of them are currently living in the area, sisters Tricia Widdows Schuster and Kristi Widdows Calfee have put more than 10,000 books into the hands of preschool children in Grand Junction.

Schuster and Calfee are the founders of the local chapter of the Imagination Library, an early childhood literacy program started by country music legend, Dolly Parton.

The women were born and raised in Grand Junction. Although they have since moved to the Denver-metro area, they wanted to give-back to the community they still consider home.

“This is where we grew up and this area doesn’t always have the same opportunities as larger cities do,” Schuster explained at the 10,000th book celebration at the Mesa County Library Monday morning.

The sisters launched the Grand Junction Imagination Library in November 2008 starting with free books to children under five-years-old who were living in the 81501 zip code. Since then, they have been delivering free books to children in the 81503, 81505 or 81506 zip codes as well.

Sometime this summer, the 10,000th free book was delivered to a child’s mail box. It may have been Julie Chaffee’s. Chaffee, 5, loves receiving the books in the mail. Her favorite is “Take Care, Good Knight” by Shelley Moore Thomas. “I like it because I get to read it to my dolly that I got at the garage sale,” she said.

Schuster credits many local organizations such as the Mesa County Library, local volunteers and active board members for their support which has added to the success of the program. “Their voice is really what is bringing validity to the program,” she said.

In August, the program delivered its 11,646th free book. There are currently 670 local children signed up in the program. 


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