I’m a huge fan of reading, books, and libraries. In elementary school I was a voracious reader. I can remember getting up early, sitting on the heat register and reading a little before it was time to go to school. I’d read on the bus. If it was a really rainy day, I might take my book and read in the cafeteria hallway during recess. You get the picture!
Once I was addicted to magic, books were THE way to learn more. There were no DVDs, VHS tapes, and certainly no YouTube. So, I went to the library and proceeded to check out and devour every magic book I could find.
When, as a sophomore in high school, I decided that I was ready to begin my career, I offered to do a free show for the local Lacey Timberland Library. The children’s librarians, Bob Stalder and Nancy Shutz, accepted my offer. I had no idea that my brief performances as part of their Summer Reading Program storytelling visits would launch what has become thousands of performances for libraries throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Fast forward to today, and I still love using the library. (I have cards for the Timberland, Pierce County, and King County Library Systems, and if I root around believe I have a Seattle Public Library card.) Just today I was listening to a book on CD while I was driving in my car. (I turned my car into a “rolling university” a long time ago.) Even though I know I pay property taxes for the library, I still sometimes feel like I’m getting something for “free” when I check out materials.
Books inform. They educate. They reveal new worlds and possibilities you never imagined existed. And, just knowing that these things exist is often all you need to make it a reality for yourself. When I perform my Reading Magic program for schools, I try and share some of this wonder and appreciation of books with the kids. (Of course, most of them have already experienced the magic of reading for themselves.)
Last week I visited schools in Ocean Park, Long Beach, and Naselle, Washington with my Reading Magic assembly. All programs were sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the Timberland Regional Library system. The book I’m holding in the “READ” poster above is one of my all-time favorites: Mark Wilson’s Course in Magic. My grandparents gave me this book when I was about thirteen years old. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent reading, practicing, and performing routines from this book.
Add to my previous list of features that books are timeless. The same books we read today can be enjoyed by others hundreds of years in the future.
Tomorrow evening I’m performing Reading Magic for Lydia Hawk Elementary in Lacey. It is part of their Community Access Night focus on literacy and reading. If you are involved with an elementary school and are looking for a great motivational reading assembly, contact me in Olympia toll-free (877) 412-5064 or send e-mail to jeff[at]edumazement.com.