Perkins, Williams Encourage Reading

The youngest generation of Oklahomans have grown up with the Thunder for nearly their whole lives, and on Monday a group of elementary school kids had a chance to meet with two of the team’s players.

Kendrick Perkins and Reggie Williams stopped by Heronville Elementary on Oklahoma City’s south side to participate in a Reading Timeout, sponsored by American Fidelity. Perkins and Williams read the story “A Bad Case of Stripes” to the children, participated in a question-and-answer session, recited a reading pledge with the children and then took photos and handed out some Thunder gifts to the kids. For both Perkins and Williams, along with Heronville’s parent liaison Penny Ruiz, it was a rewarding experience to see the kids so excited about reading.

“If I could have had somebody that played in the NBA come talk to me and have a reading timeout at that age, I know it would have brightened up my day,” Perkins said. “You just never know how far it could go with kids. Coming in and being that light in their day, you never know what they’re going through at home or any type of situation that they’re having.”

“This is really important for the kids and so special for them because in the society that we are right now, we need more people involved in their development,” Ruiz said. “All of this is so positive.”

Williams led off the story and Perkins brought it to a close, but in between, Williams invited students to come up to the front of the room and stand by him to read pages of the story. By encouraging the children to put their reading skills on display, Williams hoped that he could foster confidence amongst the students, in addition to keeping them engaged throughout the entirety of the story.

“I don’t want to take all the credit for it, but I think it’s just a great way to get them involved,” Williams said. “Being a kid, your attention span is short, so I think allowing some of the kids to come up and read allows them to be involved in the book and allows their classmates to get involved too, because they may want to come up next.”

Not surprisingly, the students reacted incredibly well to the opportunity to read in front of the class. A large number of the kids volunteered to read in front of the class, which impressed Perkins, Ruiz and the teachers who were in attendance.

Before they left, the children mobbed Perkins and Williams for hugs and autographs, showing just how much they appreciated the visit and positive reinforcement. The chance to have two Thunder players both encourage them to read but also sit right beside them and help them along the way is a memory that will last the children from Heronville Elementary School for quite a long time.

“It’s very encouraging,” Perkins said. “That was a great idea. I never heard of anybody doing that. That was great.”

“If they have stage fright, it goes right away because someone that you like and trust is telling you to come and read with them,” Ruiz said. “It makes them more confident. It makes a memory. It kind of scratches their brain.”