BAYTOWN, TX — Fourth-graders at Lamar Elementary School in Baytown climbed aboard the Lee College Mobile Go Center this month and found a treasure trove of nearly 650 books, all arranged by genre and ready to take home for free in an effort to set them on the path to lifelong readership.
The book fair was sponsored by the Lee College chapter of the Walter Prescott Webb Historical Society, which works through the Texas State Historical Association and college and university history departments to encourage students to discover, research, write and publish the history of Texas as they find it where they live. As payment for the four books they were allowed to take, students in each of the six fourth-grade classes at Lamar drew scenes depicting things they have learned this year about Texas history and what Texas represents to them.
“Their artwork was awesome,” said Dr. Portia Hopkins, a full-time faculty member who also serves as chairwoman of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division and adviser to the Webb Society. She developed the idea for the fair and secured a grant from the Elkins Foundation to help Webb members purchase some of the books given away. Additional books were donated by community organizations.
Students high-fived Rooty the Rebel and spoke with local historian and retired Lee College instructor John Britt before entering the Mobile Go Center for their turn to browse. Their eyes lit up when they saw the desks inside covered with everything from biographies and history books to classics, comics, fantasies, humor, science fiction, books about sports and animals, and well-known series by popular authors. Webb members and Lee College faculty and Student Ambassadors were available to help the fourth-graders comb the stacks to find their favorites.
After making their final selections, students were given pencils and bookmarks featuring Texas history facts. Hopkins said the Webb Society hopes to expand the fair next year to include more elementary schools and even more books.
“Children need to read early and often so they will continue reading throughout their lifetime,” she said.
Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.