Deborah VanDetta

2023 Amazing Educators - Estacada

School: Estacada Library
Why she is an Amazing Educator:
Deborah VanDetta boosts children’s literacy skills one book at a time.


Estacada librarian inspires kids and parents

Not all educators stand in front of a classroom.

In Estacada, Youth Services Librarian Deborah VanDetta does her teaching by leading story times, helping young readers find the perfect book, promoting reading to families at festivals around town, and so much more.

“Librarians are teachers in so many ways,” said Michele Kinnamon, director of the Estacada Library. “Deborah’s teaching skills are on display especially during story times, when she not only engages kids and teaches them the lessons in the stories she reads and interprets, but also models early literacy skills for parents and teaches them how to engage their kids in books,” Kinnamon said.

VanDetta loves her job and says, “Being a part of families’ lives is really awesome and makes me very happy.” She’s thrilled to think she plays a part in igniting a love of reading, art and words in children.

Her boss says she’s good at it too.

“Deborah is great at her job because she loves what she’s doing. She is an astonishingly creative person who is always thinking of fun ways to engage kids,” Kinnamon says.

VanDetta has been the youth services librarian at the Estacada Library for about seven years. She has worked in school libraries and has a strong art and history background.

Conducting story times is her favorite part of her job, she says.

“There are so many things you can do to expand and engage both the child and the parent,” she says, adding, “kids don’t learn in just one way. I try to emphasize that in storytime.”

Storytimes also include a craft and some songs.

She also enjoys getting out of her office and helping kids pick out the perfect book. “That’s super fun,” she grins.


VanDetta also builds and curates the library’s youth book collection, from board books to teen fiction and non-fiction. She presents the library’s story times and youth book clubs. In addition, she manages the popular summer reading program and puts on fun book-related programs at the library and public events.

Some of her most popular library events are the Dia De Los Ninos, Campfire Storytime, and Stuffie Sleepovers.

“She is also known for dressing up in costume for certain events such as Talk Like a Pirate Day. She is not afraid to enter fully into a role to engage kids in stories,” Kinnamon said.

One of VanDetta’s favorite children’s books for story times is the beautiful picture book “Inside All” by Margaret Mason and illustrated by Holly Welch. She says she saves it for reading around the holidays.

The book starts with a look at the universe and pulls the reader closer until the reader is in a child’s warm bed. VanDetta points out how the colors and shapes of the universe, mountains, forests, and, eventually, bed covers are similar. The message of interconnectedness and belonging resonates.

“It speaks to my heart,” she says, “and here’s where Miss Deborah gets teary.”

The mother of two grew up in a small town in New York, and her mom worked in a middle school library for a while.

VanDetta earned a master’s degree in library science from the State University of New York at Albany and a master’s degree in art history from Rutgers University. She moved to Oregon in 2005 and worked in elementary school libraries in Portland for several years. Before that, she assisted with the volunteer-run art literacy programs at Beaverton elementary schools.

Like so many amazing educators, VanDetta says her work is a team effort.

“I could not do what I do alone. I work with other organizations like (the nonprofit) Todos Juntos and the great staff we have here. Especially in a small library, it is a team effort, everything we do here.”