ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
Liberal Memorial Library’s summer reading program will soon be wrapping up, and as part of those festivities, Dan Heath, aka Dan Dan the Magic Man, will be on hand to share some stories and tricks for those who come.
Dan Dan the Magic Man will be performing at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 13 at Liberal Memorial Library as part of the wrap-up party, which will begin at 1 p.m. As Heath tells it, there is a lot of excitement with returning to Liberal.
“Liberal always has a great crowd, we see a great turnout every year. We've been performing at that library for many years now as part of the summer reading program activities, and it's always a great time out there,” Heath said. “My children have also grown up being part of the show as my assistants, so it's really fun bringing them back with me. The people at Liberal Memorial Library are always warm and friendly and the children in the audience are always so excited to see us. Liberal has an absolutely fantastic library and if there are people not using it, they need to get in there and use it, because it's a fantastic facility.”
Heath said the show is a good one for the entire family.
“I hope people will take advantage of this opportunity to help their children experience a love of reading. I always tell children at the end of my shows how the magic happens when you read, because when you read, you open that book of your imagination, and it's in your imagination where the magic takes place,” Heath said. “And reading in the summer is so important, so I hope parents will bring their children out and even participate in the show itself. The show is really for all ages, and it's something for families to do together.”
There will also be plenty during the show to entertain everyone, Heath added.
“The theme for summer reading this year is 'All Together Now,' so we've taken that idea and applied those themes of friendship and working together and cooperation, and we've put together a story that combines four different fairy tales including 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' and 'The Three Little Pigs,' among others, and we show how cooperation and kindness and working together can help solve so many different problems,” Heath said. “We also have some cool animal friends who show up along the way, and there's also quite a bit of comedy and audience interaction, and we share the love of reading and the best use of the library.”
Heath, who is in his 22nd year of doing Dan Dan the Magic Man shows, said there are many aspects that make each summer memorable.
“For me personally, I love getting to spend the time with my sons – my son, Patrick, is going to be a senior at Wichita State University, and my other son, Quentin, is going to be a sophomore at Great Bend High School,” Heath said. “They travel with me as my assistants and help with the show, they help me write the show and put everything together, so it's truly family time when I get to talk with them and listen to their thoughts on stuff. I also get to spend my summers making children laugh, and there's no better feeling in the world than seeing a room full of children laughing their heads off at one of my jokes or illusions, and it's a great way to spend the summer. We're going to be wrapping up our season in the next couple of weeks, and we're just really excited with the places we're going to be visiting while doing that. We do put a lot of miles on our van, so it'll be nice to be back home and winding down, and it's also great having two extra licensed drivers in the car so I don't have to do it all. ”
Heath, also a teacher at Great Bend High School, emphasized the importance of participation in summer reading programs.
“The research is clear showing children who read in the summer don't experience nearly as much brain drain as children who don't. Practicing that skill and getting together at the library with other children and celebrating reading, it makes it a part of what you do every summer,” Heath said. “People who are literate also have a better chance of success in school and with job opportunities and other areas, it's just such a huge benefit. And as a teacher myself, I can tell the children who are read to when they're little and the ones who practice – children who read are better writers and speakers and it gives them so many advantages in later life.”
Overall, Heath said, he is excited to be wrapping up his summer work in the coming weeks.
“I would just encourage everyone and anyone, if you have children, bring them in to the library for the show, it's going to be a lot of fun, and it's also great for children to have those types of positive experiences associated with the library and reading and all of that,” Heath said. “If they have those positive associations, they'll be more likely to visit more and be more active at the library, and it helps instill that love of reading and the importance of literacy.”