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Holiday reading list: Port Arthur Public Library suggests hot reads for school breaks

Books that keep children engaged are the ones that intrigue Carolyn Thibodeaux the most, especially if she presents new material to the young readers at the Port Arthur Public Library.

“Of course, when you introduce books to reading-level kids, you try to get to know that kid before helping them select books,” said Thibodeaux, the library’s children’s director. “Depending on different age levels, you want to kind of keep kids engaged in a book. You don’t want to put a book in a kid’s hands that you know they won’t be pleased with.”

To Thibodeaux, keeping people of all ages engaged in a good book during the ongoing Thanksgiving break and upcoming Christmas break for local school districts is crucial.

“Everything is built on reading,” she said. “Every aspect of learning, from the littlest to the oldest. I tell people we never stop learning, especially this day and time in technology and the age we’re living in. It’s crucial; if we’re going to be leaders or great parents or great grandparents, we need to stay engaged. If not print material, you’re moving onto digital. But we have all that here at the library.”

Thibodeaux suggested some books — holiday-themed and non-holiday themed —for different age groups while school is not in session but as minds still yearn for information.

For kids

The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

  • The 1986 Caldecott Medal winner (for illustration) inspired a 2004 film starring Tom Hanks. A train called The Polar Express journeys to the North Pole, where Santa Claus will select someone to receive the first gift of Christmas. Actor Liam Neeson narrates an audio version of the book.

Twelve Days of Christmas: A Christmas Pop-Up, author not listed (Landoll)

  • This Christmas tune is converted into a pop-up book format to help youngsters interact with the story behind the tune.

The Christmas Baby, by Marion Dane Bauer (Simon and Schuster)

  • This children’s book tells the story of the birth of Jesus.

Snowmen at Night, by Caralyn Buehner (Dial Books)

  • At night, these icy kid-made statues come to life.

For adults

Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Every Day: A Complete Guide for Making Kwanzaa a Part of Your Life, by Maitefa Angaza (Thorndike Press)

  • Kwanzaa is a seven-day holiday celebration (Dec. 26-Jan. 1) that celebrates one theme each day, and this book shows how to celebrate Kwanzaa year-round.

The Kitchen Shortcut Bible: More Than 200 Recipes to Make Real Food Real Fast, by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarborough (Little, Brown and Co.)

  • What’s a holiday celebration without real food, right? Weinstein and Scarborough team up to show readers how to bring the real food in more than 200 ways without taking up too much time. Thibodeaux suggested this book since food is usually a big part of holiday celebrations across the U.S.

Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover (Random House)

  • Isolated from mainstream society, Westover didn’t step into a classroom until she was 17. But she taught herself well enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University and eventually Harvard University and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster, by Stephen L. Carter (Henry Holt and Co.)

  • Eunice Hunton Carter, grandmother of the author, joins a team assembled by Thomas E. Dewey to take down Lucky Luciano in the 1930s.

Director’s take

Port Arthur Public Library director Steven Williams considers himself a non-fiction reader, which he says is unlike many librarians. But he takes pride in offering books to fit all demographics.

“Many librarians feel the same way that I do, and that’s we do not filter information,” he said. “If there’s a resource and the public wants it, we want to have it out there for them.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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