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BRIGHT FUTURES — Introducing Port Arthur 6th grader Tannika Roberts, top performer in library’s summer reading program

Tannika Roberts read for nearly 170 hours this summer, so it was no surprise when she was awarded the top spot in the Port Arthur Public Library’s summer reading program.

Roberts, who will soon start sixth grade at Lincoln Middle School, likes to read mystery and realistic fiction.

“This was my first time,” Roberts, 11, said of participating in the summer reading program. “It was really good.”

Top reader Tannika Roberts helps serve pizza to participants from the summer reading program during the end-of-season party. (Monique Batson/The News)

But Roberts, whose favorite book from the summer was “You Can’t Drink a Meatball Through a Straw” from the “Here’s Hank” series, didn’t stop with reading. Last week during the finale of the six-week program, she volunteered to pass out pizza to the other readers.

“We logged more than 100,000 hours this year,” Children’s Librarian Carolyn Thibodeaux said. “We had 180 registered for the summer reading program.”

Called Tails and Tales this year, the annual reading challenge began the first week of June and included a weekly in-house activity for participants.

The 2021 stop readers for the summer reading program. (Courtesy of Carolyn Thibodeaux)

“It was amazing,” Thibodeaux said. “If you’re hesitant getting out because of COVID, the library is the best place to start.”

She said they kept in-house activities to 50 percent capacity and limited the number of weekly programs to help reduce virus exposure.

This was the 30th year the event was sponsored by the Sertoma Club, which donated $750 to readers ensuring every participant got a gift card.

“The June numbers went up tremendously and I would definitely say it’s associated with summer reading,” said Claudia Hairston, assistant library director, of membership. “We’ve got kiddos coming in and checking out not just one book but two, three, four books.”

Hairston said membership this year went from approximately 300-400 to over 1,000.

And while the summer reading challenge is over, the fun isn’t.

Through Aug. 20, children are entered into a chance to win the library’s Tails and Tales Reading Buddy with each book they check out. The winner will be announced Aug. 23.

Through Aug. 20, every time a child checks out a book, they’re entered into a drawing for the library’s Tails and Tales Reading Buddy. (Monique Batson/The News)