Pat Donmoyer stood at the front of the classroom and read from the book “White Giraffe” last Friday to a fourth-grade class at Leonardtown Elementary School.
“I found some really cool facts about giraffes,” she said to the students during a break from reading the book written by Lauren St. John.
Donmoyer told the students that giraffes can grow 18 feet tall and can see a mile away.
The former teacher wanted to celebrate World Read Aloud Day by gathering community volunteers to read to students on Feb. 1 from books that were bought at the White Rabbit bookstore in Leonardtown, and then donated to school teachers.
“It’s how I give back to the school I taught at for 33 years,” she said.
There were nine volunteers who read to the elementary kids that day. Some were parents, and some, like John Fielder, had a connection to White Rabbit. His wife, Becky, is the owner of the store.
But he said it was Donmoyer who encouraged him to participate and suggested what book he should read.
“At my age, I don’t know what second-graders want to read,” he said.
He ended up with “The Wild Robot” by Peter Brown, which he read to Christy Walsh and Ashley Kenny’s second-grade class.
“The kids loved that,” Walsh said. “They loved the story. The kids were captured the whole time.”
Fielder said he had more fun than he thought and was impressed with how captivating the students were.
“I was tickled pink that this second grader had already read Tom Sawyer,” the Leonardtown resident said.
Kindergartner Gabriella Campbell said the reading of “The Snowy Nap” by Jan Brett was good. Jill Higgs, one of the teachers, said the author is a favorite in her class. It’s about a hedgehog who tries to stay awake during the winter so he doesn’t miss all the fun.
Campbell said her favorite part was “when he cuddled in the leaves at the end.”
Her classmate, Lena Combs, also said the book was good. But she had a different favorite part.
“I liked that the girl took the hedgehog,” the 6-year-old said. “It was just a good book.”
Fellow classmate Abel Kassulke thought the book was funny. Specifically, the part “when all the animals got stuck inside.”
One of the volunteers not only wanted to read to the students, but wanted to surprise her daughter, who teaches at the school.
“I was stunned,” Maggie Daly said about seeing her mom, Mary Helen Daly, show up. “I thought, ‘Is that my mom? Why is she in my room?’”
Mary Helen Daly read “Gooney Bird Greene” by Lois Lowry to her daughter’s second-grade class.
“With a silent ‘E’ at the end,” a student said about the book’s title.
Maggie Daly said she’s going to continue reading the book to the students after they finish “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio.
Contino Quick-McQueen, Leonardtown Elementary’s principal, said the event is beneficial to the students. “I think recognizing World Read Aloud Day, and having a community come in to read with students, is an exciting way to show students that reading is important.”