Local storyteller kicks off Reading Week at Oak Lawn

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Students’ laughter and joy filled the cafeteria at Oak Lawn Elementary School on May 28 as local storyteller Joe Theroux told children’s tales of heroism and love.

The assembly kicked off the beginning of the school’s Reading Week, during which guest readers come in to tell stories to young students.

Theroux, who said he makes up his own stories, presented three stories at the first assembly, which included students from kindergarten to second grade. He told stories such as “The Monkey and the Firefly,” “Princess Lisa’s Curveball” and “The Tortoise and the Hare’s Rematch.”

The second story told the tale of Princess Lisa, who had to defeat a dragon by throwing rocks at it as if she was throwing for a baseball team. The third story, according to Theroux, was based on Native American folklore and involved a twist on the classic race between the tortoise and the hare race.

The message of the story, according to Theroux: “Sometimes you can succeed because you’re just really good. Sometimes you can succeed because you try the hardest, and sometimes you can succeed because your friends and your family are there to help you.”

For the next assembly, which included students from the third through fifth grades, Theroux told two stories. The first, “Lila Prescott and the High Diving Board,” told the story of a main character seeking to impress a girl. It was set, he said, in a “far off magical land known as Warwick, Rhode Island.”

The second story, “The Alien Pod,” was about the main character believing there was an alien – or rather, an alien pod – in a neighborhood child’s abandoned treehouse. In the end, the alien pod ended up being a hornets’ nest.

Theroux said he attends events at libraries and summer reading programs across the state, as well as festivals throughout southern New England. He has also done private functions such as charitable events.

“I’ve been doing this, at least professionally, since 2000,” he said.

Theroux said when he was young, he saw storytellers such as Len Cabral and was influenced by them.

Yvonne Ricci, vice president of the Oak Lawn School Parent Teacher Group, said that the theme for last week’s Reading Week was universal stories. She said that the PTG and a handful of teachers are responsible for organizing guest readers to come in and read to the students. 

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