Some of the sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Delta Jr. High participated in a book study this month, reading Ernest Hill’s “Family Ties.”
Having completed the book Monday, the students will have an assembly in the cafeteria tomorrow to discuss the book with a special visitor – Ernest Hill himself.
“He’s going to speak to the children about the book they just read and present each of them with another one of his books, ‘Cry Me a River,’” said Delta librarian Pamela Benton.
Hill is the author of six novels, including “Satisfied with Nothing,” “A Life for a Life” and “A Person of Interest.”
He grew up in Oak Grove during a time of strict segregation. Outhouses, unpaved streets and tin roof shanties were a way of life in the small rural town.
By the beginning of his fourth year of school, political and social changes swept through the South. Desegregation began and with it came equal opportunities. Hill transferred from a small, understaffed, segregated black school to Oak Grove Elementary and high school.
There he earned a football scholarship to Northeast Louisiana University. After an injury ended his football career, he transferred to the University of California, Berkley where he received his bachelor’s degree in Social Science. Afterwards, he attended Cornell University and UCLA where he also received degrees.
Rising up from a meager background to become the renowned author and motivational speaker he is today, Hill remembers where he came.
“I’ll have people recognize me and come up to me to speak. One young lady said, ‘You’re somebody aren’t you?’” Hill said. “I’ll tell them, ‘I’m just a regular person.’”
One topic Hill speaks on is how he worked hard to make his dreams come true. He gave a similar speech at Delta Jr. High in February during their literacy program.
“I’m living proof, dreams can happen,” he told the students. “The house I grew up in was on an unpaved road and we didn’t have a bathroom in the house.”
Now back for another visit at Delta, Hill plans to speak to the students again about the importance of an education and following their dreams.
“He stopped by Friday afternoon to make arrangements for Wednesday’s event. He spoke to a few of the children while he was here,” Benton said. “He told them to follow their passion and they could do whatever they want to do in life.”
During this Wednesday’s event, Hill will be promoting his new book study program called “Ernest Hill’s Great Read.” The program is designed to enhance students’ reading levels by encouraging them to read for pleasure and enlightenment.
“I’m trying to get as many junior highs and high schools involved with this as possible,” Hill said.
Benton said the children are looking forward to the book study.
“This is something the kids wanted to do,” Benton said. “They can relate to these books so they enjoy reading them.”
“Cry Me a River” will be distributed to the children during Wednesday’s event. Benton said they’ll read it independently in July.
“When they come back in the fall, we’ll discuss it,” she said.
For more information on “Earnest Hill’s Great Read,” go online at www.ernesthillbooks.com or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 325, Oak Grove, La, 71263.