Cocky authors encourage students to be themselves

First-grade students at Thornwell pose for a photo with Preston Thorne and Langston Moore.
Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Two former South Carolina Gamecock football players brought a heaping dose of reading fun to Thornwell School for the Arts Wednesday, June 7 during the school’s summer reading program.

Preston Thorne, who graduated with a Masters of Teaching from USC, and Langston Moore, a veteran of the NFL and current sideline reporter for USC, spoke to students in grades kindergarten through third about their book, #JustAChicken.

Thorne and Moore wrote the book while fellow USC Alum Kev Roche illustrated it. The colorful story features several characters that are easily recognizable to fans of the SEC.

#JustAChicken tells the story of Cocky, USC’s famed mascot, as he tries to find his place. He compares himself to others and feels that he can never be good enough because he is #JustAChicken.

While reading the book was fine, Moore and Thorne took it a step further. They asked the students to count the number of animals with tails in an illustration, asked them to identify the emotions and conversations characters might be having based on a picture and taught other lessons all while the students were having fun.
Moore said that teaching comes naturally to them.

“I’m the son of a teacher and he’s a teacher so education has always been our deal,” Moore said. “It is great for us to have a story but if we don’t share it with anyone then it is kind of all for nothing. Coming out here and teaching in covert ways, so that they don’t know they are learning, is always fun. Teachers are so resourceful and they come up with so many different kinds of things and it is fun for us to be able to do that. We hope to reaffirm all of the good things that teachers are doing.”

The book teaches children to be themselves. Being able to visit schools and affirm that lesson has been rewarding, Moore said.

“We just do a few visits during the summer just because of intermittent summer classes but during the year we are visiting pretty much every day,” Moore said. “This is our third year of having the book out. The first year wasn’t too heavy with the school visits, we were just trying to get the materials out, but the last year it has been picking up a lot, which is good. We travel a lot, we’ve been to Texas; we’ve been all over with our story.”

#JustAChicken can be purchased online at vendors like Amazon as well as

Author: Duane Childers

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