Jennifer McComb said her 5-year-old son, Andrew, ran out of his kindergarten class on Monday screaming, "Mom, mom, we have to go see Walter the Giant Storyteller tonight."
Andrew, along with the other students of Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, participated in a storytelling presentation by Walter Mayes during the day. He performed again at 7 p.m. in the school cafeteria for about 200 students and parents.
"He thoroughly entertained our children from kindergarten to fifth grade," said Kirk Kinne, principal. "We had an excellent turnout tonight especially with this weather."
Mayes stands six feet seven inches and has toured the country as a professional storyteller for the last 15 years under the name, "Walter the Giant Storyteller."
"Everybody has a gift that they can use to make the world a better place," Mayes said. "I was fortunate in that I not only found what that gift is, but I have the opportunity to use it."
Dressed in a light blue buttondown shirt with a pair of navy blue-and-white striped pants that hit just above his tan socks, Mayes captured the attention of the audience immediately.
He held each book high in the air and turned the pages to show the illustrations; however, he rarely glanced at the words on the page but told the stories from memory. His free hand waved in the air to emphasize his portrayal of each character, and occasionally, brushed his red hair off of his forehead.
Between each reading, Mayes talked directly to the parents, encouraging them to read to their children.
"The most important thing you can do is sit down with your child and share a story," he said. "Sharing a story is, pure and simple, an act of love."
To make it easier for parents to select quality reading material, Mayes co-authored a reference guide with Valerie Lewis that categorizes children's books by subject and suggests ways to find books that will excite children to read.
"If they only read because the school tells them to, they'll think reading is a chore," he said. "Reading is not a chore, it's a choice."
Mayes is in Northern Nevada as a guest speaker for the Nevada Reading Week convention.
"He was here five years ago and we had a wonderful response," said Becky Erdmann, member of the Nevada Reading Week committee.
"He did a great job today," she added.