Fisher, Cook Take Part in Read to Achieve

The students in Marcus Garvey Leadership Charter School’s pre-K through first-grade classes found a little of themselves in the books that two Thunder players read to them Thursday afternoon.

Even if they didn’t identify directly with the stories, the players made the connection for them.

“E is for energy,” said Daequan Cook as he read through “J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet” with the excited group. “Ya’ll got a lot of that already.”

For this Thunder Reading Timeout, presented by American Fidelity Assurance Company, Cook and Derek Fisher each chose a basketball-themed book to share with the children, but both players made sure the lessons in the books – and some of the lessons they’ve learned from their own experiences – weren’t lost in the fun of the afternoon.

As he read through “J is for Jump Shot,” Cook quizzed the children on which letter in the alphabet came next, sometimes trying to throw them for a loop.

“What comes after Q, S or T?” he asked, testing the kids’ knowledge of the alphabet. Most corrected him immediately as Cook smiled.

Cook said he wanted the kids to interact as much as possible with the story. “I know when I was growing up, it could get boring just listening to somebody read, so just having kids interact with you and involved makes it easier to have kids pay attention.”

Fisher, making his first appearance in the community for the Thunder, read “Allie’s Basketball Dream,” in which a young girl receives a basketball from her father and goes around her neighborhood practicing her game.

At one point, Allie works on her shooting by tossing a ball into a garbage can. “When I was little, at my house, I used to shoot baskets into an empty trash can, too,” Fisher shared with the children.

As they discussed the books and answered questions, both players were sure to emphasize that no matter what the kids are working at, whether it’s basketball or reading, practice and hard work will help them to get better and to succeed.

When asked which was harder, basketball or reading, Fisher noted that both can be difficult – but you have to practice so you can get better, even if you’re in the NBA.

One student warmed to Fisher so much that she raised her hand and shyly commented, “You’re my favorite famous friend.” Fisher invited the girl to the front for an appreciative hug.

Timothy Derritt, program coordinator at Marcus Garvey, said that the goal of the charter school is to bring the community into their classrooms, and the Reading Timeout certainly fits within that mission.

“The main goal and focus (of the school) is actually to give our kids some direction (and) at the same time incorporate the community into our schools so we can make a difference,” he said.

“When the players come out here, that makes them a big part of the community because then the kids feel like they’re one of them, that they’re accessible,” he added.

“We’re really, really happy about them coming to visit us here today and read to our students.”