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January 22nd, 2022

dan dan the magic man spotlight pageDan Dan the Magic Man prepares a trick with his pet rabbit during a 2019 performance at Liberal Memorial Library. He will be returning to the library for a performance starting at 10 a.m. July 1. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Liberal Memorial Library will become a more magical place for children and their parents thanks to an upcoming show. 

Dan Heath, aka Dan Dan the Magic Man, will be doing a performance July 1 on the front lawn at Liberal Memorial Library, with the show starting at 10 a.m. Heath said he is excited to be coming back to Liberal for a performance. 

“We always get a huge, awesome crowd in Liberal. This is my 19th year doing summer reading performances in Southwest Kansas, and it's always awesome to come to Liberal and perform there,” Heath said. “The audiences are always wonderful, the children always love live entertainment, and the summer reading program there is very large, which is always great because it shows how important literacy is to the community. It's always a great crowd there, so we love coming to Liberal.”

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Overall, Heath said, the show will be fun for all in the audience. 

“The fun part about our show is it's different every year, we always try really hard to not repeat illusions,” Heath said. “We really had fun with our 2019 show, and then we obviously weren't able to perform last year because of COVID-19 and everything else going on, so it's been really great retooling the show for this year. We always work to have the show fit around the summer reading theme, and this year is 'Tales and Tails' – animals always work great with magic, and there are so many great stories about animals. We have a few small live animals in our show, and they're really fun to work with, and the children love seeing them. The show's fun and educational, and it's great for people of all ages – children always have a lot of fun, and I've gotten a lot of compliments from their parents too. My own children also help me out with the show, I've got a college sophomore and an 8th grader, and they're great to work with.”

Due to COVID-19 canceling summer reading program activities in 2020, Heath said he is also overall excited to be doing shows again this summer. 

“I'm also a high school teacher, and that was so hard with COVID-19 and everything else with the masks and shutdowns and other protocols and people needing to quarantine – it was a bit of a nightmare and I'm really glad things are beginning to open up and it's great to be able to get back to some semblance of normal,” Heath said. “And programs like this are awesome, it's another fun activity to do along with the summer sports and 4-H and all those other things children are part of during the summer. It's nice to see things getting back to some sort of normal, and we're really excited to be on the road again.”

Heath also talked about the importance of summer reading program activities. 

“As a high school teacher, I've seen what happens when children don't have that foundation of literacy, there's a lot of struggle there and they can slip through the cracks. They can develop some coping mechanisms to help them make it through what they need to, but once they get to high school, those mechanisms might not work anymore since the level of work is so much different than what they've already done. If you can't pass some of the basic standardized tests, there are a lot of opportunities lost – there are so many instances of children being really bright and willing to learn, but they were never able to develop that strong foundation of literacy when they were young. Summer reading is a great way to do that because it's a fun environment and away from some of the pressures of the classroom, and it's a great way for them to gain some excitement about reading. People who read are the ones who really achieve their dreams and are able to really go far because they have that foundation, and summer reading is a great way to get that started.”

Heath added the variety to each year’s show keeps him excited about performing. 

“I'm in a rather unique position insofar as I'm really a summer reading magician, that's when I do the bulk of my performances, I only do one or two other performances during the year that aren't related to the summer reading program,” Heath said. “But I also like how I've got that niche because I can spend a ton of energy throughout the summer doing my performances, and then spend the rest of the year planning out what I want to do for the next summer. It also helps keep my brain active because I do have to make different plans and retool the show every year. It's also really important for children to be involved in summer reading, brain drain is a real thing and studies show there's a fair amount of intellectual 'slippage,' so to speak, that happens during the summer when children aren't in school and in that structured environment, so summer reading also helps keep children mentally sharp too. Literacy is so important, and I enjoy doing my part to help with that. Doing my show is also a great summer job for me – other teachers work in the summers doing a variety of different things, but the best part for me is I get to be out on the road with my sons and a pair of pet rabbits do my magic show for a bunch of communities.”

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