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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Summer reading programs begin at local libraries

Summer reading programs have begun all around the area. Local libraries are readying themselves to challenge children, teens and adults to set down their electronics this summer and dive into a world of adventure only accessed through imagination.

The Hebert Public Library, 2025 Merriman St. in Port Neches, announced its virtual summer reading program on June 1.

Chelsea Moore, the adult programs coordinator, explained some of the changes to the annual challenge.

“Due to the coronavirus, we’ve been having to make a lot of changes because we want to keep our patrons safe,” she said. “So everything’s virtual this year. Normally, we’d have weekly program for the kiddos where they’d be able to sit together and we’d have a storyteller. We can’t do that this year, but we still want to make sure that everybody still felt connected to us.”

Along with Carolyn Bedwell, children’s coordinator, and Deanna Sullivan, teen programs coordinator, the trio brainstormed ways to connect to the community through a screen.

“This year we got rid of the initial registration and created Google forms for each program,” Moore said. “Essentially, the kids and teens do their challenges based on time. When they click on their form, they’ll select the week they are reading, put in their information and age group.

“For the adults, we are doing it solely based on titles. If they read four titles one week, they will submit that information.”

A weekly top reader is selected after completion. Winners receive a yard sign and a small prize each week.

“The kids get to take a picture with their prize and sign,” Moore said. “Everyone seems to really like it. It adds that competition layer to it.”

Virtual tours, crafts, trivia games and storytelling are also periodically posted on the library’s Facebook page.

“We just really want to stay connected with our patrons as best as we can during these weird times,” Moore said.

The Marion and Ed Hughes Library, 2712 Nederland Ave., and Port Arthur Public Library, 4615 9th Ave., are also moving their programs to digital.

Carolyn Thibodeaux, children’s and young adults librarian in Port Arthur, said it’s important to continue to keep kids engaged in reading.

“We’re here to engage them in books electronically and putting it in their hands,” she said. “When they get registered we give them this little brag tag and add something to their necklace every week, along with other incentives like yard signs. Our theme this year is ‘separate, but apart.’ Even though we’re not together like we usually are, it’s important to keep parents motivated and children excited.”

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.