PAISD, library events Friday, Saturday spotlight Harlem Renaissance & reading promotion

Published 12:19 am Thursday, March 5, 2020

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The Port Arthur Independent School District is gearing up for a weekend of reading with two events spotlighting literacy and fostering a love for books.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Epsilon Theta Omega Chapter is hosting a Harlem Renaissance Book Club Saturday at the Port Arthur Public Library from 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday.

The event is geared toward students ages 6-15 and free to the public.

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Juanda Bryant, first grade teacher at Sam Houston Elementary and member of the national sorority, said the event hopes to expose the community to the importance of the Harlem Renaissance, which plays a huge part in black history but is not often expanded upon in schools.

“So what we want to do is expose the community to the Harlem Renaissance era through reading, writing, creativity and history,” Bryant said.

The book club meeting will start with a brief clip showing the history of the Harlem Renaissance, introduction of sorority members, and a small group reading session.

Children will read books such as Emi’s Curly Coily, Cotton Candy Hair by Tina Olajide, The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of the Harlem Renaissance, Sugar Hill: Harlem’s Historic Neighborhood and more.

After the readings, those in attendance will have the chance to apply for a library card, check out books and create their own hardcover book about the experience.

Bryant wants young people to be knowledgeable about the music, clothing and migration of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as instill a love for reading.

Her class is also currently studying Dr. Seuss, a segment intended to show students the creative side of reading and writing ahead of next week’s Spring Break.

“As an educator, we want our children to learn,” she said. “We are celebrating Dr. Seuss and his love for reading and writing because we are seeing a decline in that these days.

“We want the kids to understand that even if they aren’t going on a crazy Spring Break trip, that they can go to the library, pick out a book, imagine it and be taken to new places without even leaving Port Arthur. It’s just something we have to do for the expansion of literacy. We have to get our children to read again and enjoy it.”

PAISD will also begin their “Tour on the Reading Benefits for Children” presentation at the Washington Elementary School from 10- 11 a.m. Friday.

The multilingual and migrant department, in conjunction with the Port Arthur Public Library, is bringing the “Travel the World, Read a Book” themed tour to all elementary schools in the school district through March and April.

Richard Celis, parent immigrant community liaison for PAISD, wants to show parents in the district what reading 5-10 minutes a day can do for child development.

“I believe that reading is the most important skill children need to learn,” he said. “Not only for academics, because you read for every subject, but also to open their minds and their imaginations to see that they can travel the world without ever leaving the room.”

For more information, call Carolyn Thibodeaux 409-985-8838 at the Port Arthur Public Library or visit