Shive Elementary is buzzing for reading

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

ROCKWELL — Getting kids to read books is even more difficult now because of all of the different ways they can spend their free time. With the internet, cell phones and television as engaging as ever, being able to inspire readership in kids is a rare feat today. 

It turns out the faculty at Shive Elementary in Rockwell have an idea to get their students to crack open a book: invite Hugo the Hornet to help out. 

Shive Elementary Media Specialist Julie Heilig thought her students had lost interest in reading, so she tried to find a way where they could get it back. That’s where the Hornets come in. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Hugo, the Charlotte Hornets mascot, visited Shive for a reading celebration in an auditorium filled with games, videos, music, prizes, and surprise guests.

“Hugo the Hornet is like a celebrity to them and a lot of our kids don’t usually get to go to the games or see the live games, so seeing him excited about reading, getting them pumped up about reading, I felt that would get them excited about reading, building up that passion,” Heilig said. 

In the school auditorium called “The Hive,” Hugo and DJ Crazy T from the Hornets got in front of the entire school to share LaMelo Ball clips, educational videos about basketball players Michael Jordan and Ivory Latta, and Abraham Lincoln. There was also a trivia game where the participants got Hornet bobbleheads. 

For one last surprise, Charlotte rapper Lil Richye made an appearance to get students dancing and talk to them about the joys of reading. Having already written two books when he was younger, Lil Richye is a prime example of how reading can positively shape a life.

“As somebody who looks like them, somebody who is able to represent what they represent, somebody who is close to their age, it lets them know that everybody is going through the same thing. They are not alone in whatever journey they may be facing,” Lil Richye said.

After the presentation, randomly selected students were chosen to go on the Barings Book Bus and pick out a book for free. For the rest of the school, back in March, the school took part in a Book Blast program through Books Are Fun to receive donations so every other student could get a free book, too. Heilig says this will be a program that the school will continue to do in the future.

“I hope it will carry to keep them reading in the summer, to build on those reading skills that they lost during COVID, to build that passion back because they lost so much, to build on those skills that they’re learning now, and keep building on those skills later,” Heilig said.