Read to Achieve Event: Winthrop Elementary

BOSTON – On a day when Boston Celtics players Mickael Pietrus, Chris Wilcox, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore had no practice scheduled and could have slept in, they instead were at the Sports Museum of New England with 30 students from Winthrop Elementary for the monthly Read To Achieve event, in partnership with Kia.

“There’s no place I would rather be,” said rookie JaJuan Johnson. “Education is so important and can provide many opportunities for children. I’m just happy to be here to let them know that literacy is essential to succeeding in life.”

Prior to reading to the kids, the players wanted to share some of their favorite books with the group.

“Growing up my favorite book was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss,” said fellow rookie Moore.

“I liked One Fish, Two Fish by Dr. Seuss,” added Johnson.

“I guess we’re all Dr. Seuss fans up here,” said Wilcox, “Because my favorite book was Mem>Cat and the Hat!”

As the group began to read Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts, Pietrus wanted to change things up a little bit.

“I think the rookies should read the book,” he said. “Chris and I want to come and sit with you all while they read.”

With the rookies smiling because they knew they were duped, Wilcox and Pietrus went to sit with the students. However, there was another twist to reading the book because the students wanted to help read as well.

It ended up being a group effort as everyone read the story of Jeremy, who longed for a pair of new shoes that everyone else had. Jeremy learned that others are worse off than he was and gave the new pair of shoes to his friend who needed them more.

“One of the morals of this story is to always be grateful for everything you have,” said Moore. “There will always be someone out there who has it worse.”

Following the reading portion of the event, the youth divided into four groups for a scavenger hunt at the museum. Children raced to different players as they excitedly began the hunt. The rookies’ teams were especially focused on being the first to finish the hunt, so from time to time you could see the kids, Johnson and Moore running around the museum to find the answers to their questions.

The teams learned that the Celtics played their first game at Northeastern University and that Red Auerbach hired Bill Russell, the first African American coach in major US sports history.

In the end, Johnson’s team finished first but everyone was a winner as the students all received autographs from the players.

“Before we leave, I just want to make sure you all know why we were here today,” said Wilcox. “We want you all to continue reading every day. In almost everything that you do, reading is required. Even now as a basketball player we have to read things. We have to read contracts, bills and playbooks, so please take reading seriously.”

The youth all responded in unison, at the pleasure of the present players, that they would continue to read moving forward.

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