Literacy brought to patrons by way of outdoors

Published 11:56 am Monday, June 25, 2018

By Lorenzo Salinas


It might have been an outdoor, festive event with music and games, but the point was to encourage reader literacy and get a book into a child’s hand — at least according to library media.

The Port Arthur Public Library and the Port Arthur Department of Parks and Recreation teamed up to present Free Family Literacy Fun Fest Saturday at Barbara Jacket Park in Gilliam Circle. There, families and attendees would be present for music, presentations, food, games and more. And, of course, books.

“This sprung up as a collaboration between the City of Port Arthur and the (Port Arthur) Library and its Parks and Recreation Department,” Carolyn Thibodeaux, children’s librarian and organizer, said. “We all came together to bridge the community together with an emphasis on families and cohesion.”

Thibodeaux stressed the importance of a library as an informational hub for the community. Port Arthur has not had a library since Harvey inundated it with water in August nearly a year ago.

“We want our patrons to know that we’re going to come back stronger than we’ve ever been before,” Thibodeaux said. “We’re going to come back stronger and more fabulous than ever.”

In the meanwhile, before the Port Arthur Library could return sometime later in the year, she highlighted an option all Port Arthur patrons had available to them: TexShare.

TexShare is a program that unites Texas libraries in providing print and electronic resources to patrons of participating libraries regardless of institution type, size or location.

Port Neches, Groves, Nederland and Lamar libraries are all member organizations with TexShare, and Thibodeaux was quick to direct patrons wanting access to library resources to any one of them. All they would need is a card. Patrons could go to these participating libraries or call them for more information.

“We need to come across community and neighborhood and municipal lines and work together,” Thibodeaux said. “We need to ignore the lines of city and come together as a family.”

Kierra Lavalis brought 2-year-old Khylie Fusilier to the fest to have a fun time.

“I live down the street, and we came here because we heard the music,” Lavalis said.

“We enjoyed everything… This is very exciting. There’s really nothing else to do in this area.”

The event offered free books to children, special performances by local authors and mentors on site to read with the children. In addition, there were face painting, snow cones and cotton candy offered to attendees.

Port Arthur Police and Fire Departments were on hand to provide a gaming area and fire truck safety respectively.