Through its Phone-a-Story program, the Denver Public Library had never had professional athletes read stories to children before Ian Desmond and Ryan McMahon. The two Colorado Rockies not only made history with the program, but also turned their stories into two of the most successful segments the library has ever seen.
Normally each reading of a book lasts for one week on the Phone-a-Story program. However, the popularity of Ian Desmond reading, “Dragons Love Tacos” and Ryan McMahon reading “Is Your Mama a Llama?” pushed the Denver Public Library to have the readings available for two weeks in late April and early May featuring the two Colorado Rockies players.
The process is simple. Using a voicemail-type system, listeners call into a specific number and push another number to hear the story they want to hear read to them. The Rockies players promoted the readings on social media with video messages
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“The program is really popular and has a national reach,” said Olivia Gallegos, communications manager for the Denver Public Library. “Kids can call in and leave messages after they hear the story, so that’s really cute.”
According to Gallegos, Desmond and McMahon picked the books they wanted to read for the program.
“We thought it was really successful,” Gallegos said. “We were really excited they wanted to record the intro videos that we could promote on social media. Twitter went crazy with all the tweets from kids and adults who wanted to call in and hear the stories read.”
Dallas Davis, director of community affairs for the Rockies, told me the partnership between the Rockies and the Denver Public Library on this program was a success for both sides.
“With students out of school and literacy being something we want to focus on within our foundation mission, we reached out to the library and partnered with them,” Davis said. “Working together with the library will help get our message out there as well as plug into what they’re doing with encouraging kids to read during this time.
“It’s amazing how far a simple gesture of reading a book can stretch when a baseball player realizes his leadership ability to inspire people.”
“We’re really grateful for the support of this program from the community and local organizations like the Rockies,” Gallegos added. “I think it was fun for the kids in Denver and beyond to hear some familiar voices and see those fun promotional videos.”
The recordings from Desmond and McMahon have been archived but are not currently available for the public to hear.