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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:11:02 20:59:18

STAFF PHOTO/C.J. MARSHALL Madelyn Lucio, left, Chase Robinson, Brayden Briegel and Jon Slover are congratulated by Ronald McDonald for winning an essay contest in their respective grade groups on the importance of reading.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2017:11:02 20:42:29

Ronald McDonald reads to Elk Lake elementary students on Friday during ‘It’s Book Time,’ a program sponsored by McDonalds to encourage children to read.

Ronald McDonald appeared before Elk Lake Elementary students on Friday, but not to sell Big Macs or French fries.

The McDonalds spokesperson was instead promoting ‘It’s Book Time,’ a program geared to encouraging students to read.

“Books are our friends,” Ronald said to Elk Lake students in grades kindergarten to fourth.

Utilizing a sock puppet called ‘Stookie the Bookworm’ and a touch of ventriloquism, children were taught ‘never color or scribble on a book,’ and to ‘take care of books.’

Ronald also encouraged students to ‘Picture what we read,’ and to ‘Read with excitement.’ To emphasize his point, he read a story about a storm in which the wind picked up, the thunder roared and the lightning flashed. Groups of students were each given a sound effect, which they performed as Ronald read the story.

The students had previously written essays on the importance of reading, with prizes awarded for each grade level. Among the winners were first grader Chase Robinson, second grader Madelyn Lucio, third grader Brayden Briegel, and fourth grader Jon Slover.

Susie Rothwell, Title I reading specialist at Elk Lake, explained that ‘It’s Book Time’ is geared to encourage students to read at home.

The event was sponsored by Doug Lattner, owner of the McDonalds franchise in Montrose.

“We come into school districts to encourage students to become future readers,” Lattner explained. “We try to show the importance of reading, as well as demonstrate to students the positive things that they can do by reading.”

Lattner and McDonalds have been sponsoring such events at local school districts for the past 23 years.

Another event is ‘Apple of My Eye’ in which students write an essay about the teacher who has influenced them the most.

The students responded enthusiastically throughout the program.

“Everyone was clapping,” Rothwell said. “I heard one girl in kindergarten say ‘Mister McDonald, we’re going to the library today.’”