WATSON -- Rick Wentzel’s big, hearty voice filled up Norma Jones’ fifth grade ELA class.
With a copy of Drew Daywalt’s “The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors” in his hand, the Livingston Parish Public Schools superintendent took students on a 48-page journey through the fictional history of the classic school-yard game.
He read about angry clothespins and apricots, monster printers and fighting dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets, and an all-out final battle between the three titular characters.
But the students — like the rest of us — already knew exactly how this book would end.
As always, rock beats scissors, scissors beats paper, and paper beats rock.
“Y’all must have played this game before,” Wentzel joked.
That wasn’t the only book read aloud on this day.
Wentzel was one of 15 guest speakers who read books to Live Oak Middle’s ELA classes as part of the school’s participation in World Read Aloud Day on Thursday, Feb. 1.
One of the most popular programs started by LitWorld, a non-profit organization that aims to help young people worldwide become better readers, World Read Aloud Day calls global attention to the importance of reading aloud, sharing stories, and the idea of literacy as a human right by bringing communities together across the world to read aloud.
According to LitWorld’s website, reading aloud to children everyday puts them almost a year ahead of children who do not receive daily reading. LitWorld also says that 750 million adults around the world — two-thirds of them women — lack basic reading and writing skills.
On Thursday, Live Oak Middle tried to spring a joy for daily reading in its students with guest readers and Skype sessions with actual authors.
Along with Wentzel, guest readers included assistant LPPS superintendents Joe Murphy and Steve Parrill, school board member Kellee Hennessy, former school board member David Tate, former Live Oak Elementary Principal Patty Davis, Live Oak Junior High ELA teacher Jennifer Sibley, attorney Sean Avocato, Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron Bond, Danielle Frederick of the Livingston Parish Library System, and U.S. Army veteran Essence Darrett.
The guests visited more than 20 ELA classes from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., with each spending about 20 minutes reading aloud to students.
While guests visited classrooms, Skype sessions featuring children’s book authors were held in the library — via the school’s brand new 75-inch 4K HD Ultra-Smart TV.
The guest authors included Lee Gjertsen Malone, author of “The Last Boy at St. Edith’s,” Benjamin Brooks, author of “My 7th Grade Life in Tights,” Shannon Hitchcock, author of “Ruby Lee and Me,” and Tricia Clasen, author of “The Haunted House Project.”
They spent a few minutes reading snippets from their books before students were given the opportunity to ask questions.
Drawings were held after the Skype sessions ended, with the winning students receiving a copy of the featured author’s book.
Live Oak Middle also encouraged its students to read aloud at home — to their parents, siblings, relatives, pets, whomever — and post a picture to the school’s social media pages with the hashtags #makeadifferencelom or #worldreadaloudday.