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When literacy rates are low, unemployment and poverty tend to be high. It's this fact that came to mind when LaDonna Long, a seasoned festival organizer, was approached by Lorenzo Parker, director of the West Memphis Parks and Recreation Department, who wanted to put on a community-wide event. Last year, the two organized the first CrossRoads Family Literacy Festival, giving away more than 1,000 books collected by the West Memphis Police Department to more than 900 people. At this year's festival, being held Saturday at the Tilden Rodgers Sports Complex in West Memphis, the plan is to give away more books to more people. Most of the titles are for children, though there are used and new adult books as well.

In addition to the book giveaway, there will be a fishing rodeo for kids age 7 to 12, rides, a puppet show, clowns, and performers. Representatives from Midsouth Community College will also be on-hand to provide information about literacy programs. What's more -- it's all free. "It's a giving festival," says Long. "We want people to learn the importance of reading."

CrossRoads Family Literacy Festival, 7 a.m. Saturday, September 2nd, Tilden Rodgers Sports Complex, West Memphis, Arkansas.

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