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Literacy advocates hope to stack another 300,000 free books on top of the more than 1 million already distributed in South Texas during six years of the Festival of International Books and Arts.
The annual celebration of arts and culture culminates on Saturday, April 2 with the FESTIBA Community Festival that features a day of entertainment with musical performances by internationally acclaimed musicians, a book fair, children's plays, a mariachi competition, art exhibits, storytelling, author signings and a variety of artistic vendors.
The festival will be held in the fine arts area of the University of Texas-Pan American campus in Edinburg from noon to 8 p.m.
Created in 2006 by the UTPA, FESTIBA events are dedicated to raising literacy rates in the Rio Grande Valley through various events and the distribution of books to adults and children in the region.
"Can you imagine how many books we've shared and lives we've changed?" said Dahlia Guerra, UTPA's chief organizer for FESTIBA 2011 and dean of the college of arts and humanities.
"It's truly alarming: something like 50 percent of adults in South Texas are illiterate," Guerra said, citing 2009 U.S. Department of Education statistics. "FESTIBA'S really a college readiness initiative to tackle that number early. If you start with reading at a young age, the rest should follow."
In partnership with literacy groups, U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, will try to surpass the past two years' goal of passing out 300,000 books to Valley school children.
For a detailed schedule of Saturday's events, visit www.utpa.edu/festiba.