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'Heart' makes HB Reads bigger

Discussions for Spanish speakers and seniors, and art workshops for children are new to Surf City literary event.

February 02, 2011|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com
(Scott Smeltzer )

In the past three years, HB Reads has taken participants' minds around the world — to Afghanistan, Alaska and Sudan — but this year, it also will give them another language to express their thoughts.

To mirror the subject matter in "Barefoot Heart" and expand the program to a wider audience, organizers have scheduled two bilingual discussions of Elva Trevino Hart's story of growing up as the youngest daughter of a Mexican migrant family in America.

Amy Crepeau, the literacy coordinator at the Oak View Branch Library, said the book already appears to be a hit in the mostly Latino neighborhood. More than 50 parents in the library's Family Literacy Program have borrowed the book to read with their tutors, and she expects at least a few of them to show up for the discussions at the library Feb. 28 and March 9.

"I think probably because it's a story of an immigrant family, it makes it interesting," Crepeau said. "And obviously, the parents are from Mexico, and a lot of our students are from Mexico originally. And it's a fun story. It's well written, and I think it's accessible."

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Among other additions to HB Reads is the program's kickoff event Monday: a discussion at the Michael E. Rodgers Seniors' Center, which marks the first time the program has hosted an event geared specifically to seniors. And the Huntington Beach Art Walk in February and March will feature high school students' artwork related to the book's themes.

Program founder Fred Provencher said HB Reads has grown steadily since 2008, when it began with a few book discussions and little else.

"People take on new projects," he said. "There's always something new for the following year. And thus far, each project we've taken on has been successful."

Provencher launched HB Reads in partnership with the Human Relations Task Force, a city-backed coalition that formed in the 1990s after a spate of high-profile hate crimes in Huntington Beach. The Huntington Beach Public Library assumed oversight of the program this year from the task force.

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