LAURINBURG — Libraries are usually quiet places, but that was not the case Wednesday when Scotland County Memorial Library commenced its annual Summer Reading program.
The theme for summer 2018 is “Libraries Rock.”
Two hundred and seventy-three children filled the floor and talked excitedly waiting for Mark Daniel, Magical Storyteller and Reading Ambassador to take the stage for the morning’s performance.
Daniel has been performing for more than 30 years calling himself “passionate” about instilling a love of reading in children. He took activities that he enjoyed as a child, and turned them into a career that has benefitted generations of readers.
“I loved reading, and I loved working on magic tricks. So I put the two together, and they were a great fit for a career believe it or not,” Daniel said.
Once onstage, he immediately began to engage with the children telling them to put their imagination caps on and getting them to cheer for libraries that rock, books that rock and librarians that rock.
“Children’s librarians are so important, not only to me when I was a kid, but even more so today to kind of help guide the kids along those pathways, and also teachers and parents,” Daniel said speaking on the impact that authority figures can have on young children’s relationship with books and reading.
Courtney Reed is hoping that librarians and programs like summer reading will have a positive impact on her little readers Joshua, 8-years-old and Kenleigh, four. She brings her children to the library frequently.
“She hasn’t started school yet, but she’s really good with imagination; she’s all into books,” Reed said of her youngest. “Joshua struggled a little bit, so we want to really find what he likes to read so that he can be more encouraged and motivated.”
Both children enjoyed Daniel’s show, but they were especially happy with his final trick turning a stuffed bunny into a live bunny.
Daniel used his puppetry, storytelling and magic skills to entertain and entice children to read; although, judging from the responses given by some in the audience, many were already well versed with the book and series Daniel mentioned. All he had to do was mention an author or a book series like Barbara Park’s Junie B. Jones series and the children would shout out other titles.
Daniel is always on the lookout for titles that he can work into his magic show and that work well to read out loud to little ones.
“I work on it all the time. I’m in book stores; I’m in libraries and school libraries, so I’m always looking at the books and thinking about them, thinking about the visual stories they tell and if they would work with the way I work,” Daniel said. “The great news is, there’s so much good children’s literature today that there’s great stuff to work with, and it’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to do that.”
Daniel also listens to what kids have to say about the kinds books they like to read because it helps him learn which stories will keep his audience involved in the performance.
“I find out they like things that are funny, but sometimes they like things that are really serious. That’s always eye-opening and inspirational,” he said. “Talking to the parents, it’s always good to learn what their kids love to read or don’t like to read and why or maybe they haven’t found the right book series.”
The first book Daniel introduced Wednesday was Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, quizzing the children to see how much they knew about the characters and the plot.
As he was talking Charlotte the spider magically appeared from the book and promised the audience, through Daniel, that she would write something in her web before the show was over.
While Charlotte worked, Daniel introduced Steggie the Stegosaurus and the two read “Pete the Cat and the bad Banana.” As Daniel read the book, a banana kept appearing in Steggie’s mouth eliciting laughs and cheers from the crowd.
Daniel spent part of the presentation introducing the children to fossils and encouraging them to check out books on the subject. He showed fossils he had collected over the years like part of a triceratops frill and a Tyrannosaurus Rex tooth. There were the expected “ooos” and “ahs” and some “eeewws” when he unveiled coprolite− or fossilized dino poop.
Daniel closed his show with a reading of “Not a Box” by Antoinette Portis a book that underscores the importance of using imagination.
The book was delivered to the stage in a package containing a stuffed bunny rabbit representing the book’s main character. For his big magic trick, Daniel turned the stuffed bunny into Kenny Chestnut, a real live rabbit.
The show ended with Charlotte the spider spelling out READ in her web.
Children’s Librarian Lynette Butler was pleased and impressed with turnout. Both performances saw a total of 388 children in attendance. One hundred and twelve children signed up for the reading challenge for the grand prize drawing of a Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight3 tablet. The library is challenging children to read with their parents for at least 20 minutes each day each day until the program ends on Aug. 1.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169