Liggins, Orton Join the Book Bus

One was in a shirt and tie, two were in Cowboy boots and many more were proudly wearing Thunder gear. Regardless of who they were, their attire and a big rainstorm pouring down on Tuesday, every kid at Mustang Creek Elementary in Yukon had a great time on the Rolling Thunder Book Bus, presented by the American Fidelity Assurance Company.

As they splashed through the puddle between the school’s front doors and the Thunder-themed school bus, the group of students had smiles on their face. Getting a new book was already exciting enough, but when they were surprised by the appearance of Thunder players DeAndre Liggins and Daniel Orton, the children were even more thrilled. Each student worked with Liggins and Orton to find a book that would spark their imagination and help them in their pursuit of being fluent readers.

“I was trying to find them a good book that they would appreciate and be able to read,” Orton said. “You’re helping kids pick out books and helping them learn how to read. Education is as big as anything. That’s a huge factor.”

The Thunder visited Mustang Creek Elementary at just the right time, as the school year is turning from winter into spring, with summer looming just around the corner. The entire school was challenged by their teachers at the beginning of the year to combine to read at home for a total of one million hours.

Amazingly, the students passed that mark in January, and are working towards goals of two million and three million combined hours of reading. Liggins and Orton’s visit only re-emphasizes the desire to complete those goals, much to the delight of Meggan Wilson, Head Principal at Mustang Creek.

“It’s so awesome,” Wilson said. “It just reinforces the positive behavior. It’s April, so we’re working towards keeping up that reading and not letting it go. It was amazing.”

Having a pair of NBA players encouraging them to read is a major motivating factor for these elementary school children, and Wilson explained just how important it is for kids at that age to not simply read at school, but also at home.

“It makes a huge difference,” Wilson said. “When you look at the children who have read consistently for 20 minutes a night, and you look at the data based on the testing that we’re giving them, there is a significant difference between the growth of the child who reads at home than a child who only reads at school.”

Both Liggins and Orton attended the University of Kentucky together before ironically joining the Orlando Magic then the Thunder as each have split time between the home club and the Tulsa affiliate, the 66ers. Orton, an Oklahoma City native and a veteran of the Book Bus, knew exactly where the different genres of books were. It was Liggins’ first go-round on the Book Bus, and it was a joy for him to give back to the kids in the community that support he and his teammates so strongly day-in and day-out.

“It feels good to do an appearance, it feels good to be back (in Oklahoma City),” Liggins said. “It’s a great experience and it really impacts the kids as well.”