The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Mark Fills loves to read. He likes everything about picking up a book and being transported to another place and time — so much so that the 7-year-old estimates he has read “at least a million” books this summer.
Well, not quite.
As one of Port Arthur Public Library’s top summer readers, he has read more than 100 books, his aunt Shalonda Batiste, 28, of Port Arthur, said.
Batiste accompanied her nephew and her daughter, 5-year-old Lauren Cooper to the Port Arthur Public Library Thursday for the Summer Reading Star Celebrity Grand Finale’ Party.
A one-time summer reader herself, Batiste said she was glad her daughter and nephew were interested in reading.
“It opens up minds to bigger ideas. You don’t just stay in one place, you get to use your imagination to go all kinds of places,” she said.
About 200 children enjoyed an afternoon dedicated to the love of reading at the finale’ event.
There, Port Arthur author Shannon Freeman shared insight to the recently published series of books she penned, and French Music/Story teller Sean Ardoin entertained the crowd with a lively rendition of Zydeco played aptly on the accordion.
The young readers enjoyed a limousine ride, facepainting, and refreshments, as well as accolades for reading books during the summer months.
Not only does reading keep kids busy, it stimulates their minds, Carolyn Thibodeaux, children’s librarian, said.
“It is a known fact, statistics show, that when kids read during the summer months, a minimum of a couple of books, they will retain the knowledge from the previous school year,” Thibodeaux said.
Each year, the top summer readers are recognized with gift certificates for their efforts by members of the Sertoma Club, a local service organization that funds the award ceremony.
Thursday’s finale’ party is funded by the Friends of the Library.
This year’s summer reading program featured for the first time an E-reader program.
Freeman congratulated the readers on their interest in books while recalling her early days at the library.
“I read authors like Judy Blume and Dr. Seuss right here; this was my first library,” Freeman said.
Ardoin urged the young readers to study hard, keep their word, and never say “I can’t.”
“This program has been very successful. The kids appreciate it and we hope to make our reading program more successful in years to come,” Jose David Martinez, Port Arthur library director.