It was a wacky world at the Stewart C. Meyer Harker Heights Public Library on Saturday at the Free Read Jamboree. The Dr. Seuss-themed event, sponsored in part by the Friends of the Harker Heights Public Library, attracted around 200 people, according to children’s librarian Amanda Hairston.
“It’s definitely proving to be one of our larger events,” said Lisa Youngblood, library director. The library has celebrated Dr. Seuss in years past but it’s the first time for the jamboree, she said.
“We want to celebrate Dr. Seuss because he knew exactly what he was doing with his rhymes and awareness of phonology,” she said. Most of all, Theodore Seuss Geisel’s books encourage reading.
Every child who attended the event went home with a free book courtesy of the Friends of the Harker Heights Public Library. Youngsters had an opportunity to earn another free book by playing Free Read Bingo with a wealth of goofy reading ideas, such as reading to a plant, reading to a hat, singing a book, reading to Horton and reading in Whoville, just to name a few.
“They learn reading is fun, and you don’t have to read in just one place or in only one way,” Youngblood said. “You can read while eating, read in a corner or read while eating in a corner. The prize is reading; we’re big believers in that.”
Many folks took home a Central Texas Reading Jamboree Passport to Fun, which encourages visits to other libraries and museums in the region. “I’m amazed at the support we’ve gotten across Central Texas,” Youngblood said. Twelve libraries and museums are participating, and after visiting five places a child can earn another free book.
The Read Across America Central Texas Reading Jamboree lasts until March 24.
“It’s good for kids to be in all kinds of libraries, to get that experience,” Youngblood said. “We’re committed to getting every child to read, and to keep them reading the rest of their lives.”
Books are central to one Killeen mom and her two daughters.
Melissa McMillian’s first-grader already is reading chapter books and she’s trying to teach her little sister to read. “She loves to read, and both my girls love Dr. Seuss,” she said. Of course, reading runs in the family. “I enjoy seeing them taking up my love of reading.”
McMillian is no stranger to events at the library.
“It’s good for them to be around books and activities like this. It makes reading fun,” she said.
Her older daughter was jumping around in excitement, ready to move to the next activity.
“I love seeing them so happy,” McMillian said.
The Children’s Room was brimming with colorful balloons and proved so popular that volunteers had a full-time job just keeping the balloons confined to the room. Kids slid across the floor, throwing balloons while moms and dads tried to catch photos of their children in a blur.
The event had activities to meet all interests.
Some children were attracted to the music tent with a giant floor piano, xylophones and drums, while others were enamored by building wacky worlds with Legos. A line formed quickly for face painting.
A makerspace encouraged children to create an animal using just Popsicle sticks, colorful poms, plastic googly eyes and glue to hold it all together. “They make whatever they want, in whatever way,” Youngblood said. “We’re trying to keep everything open to their imaginations, so it’s designed to be fun for all ages.”
A crew of students from Harker Heights High School and Middle School volunteered at the event.