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The magic of reading

Magician captures attention with magic, touts benefits of reading to ELC elementary students

March 12, 2019
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

Using a little magic to keep the kids' attention, educational entertainer Brian Richards delivered his message about the importance of reading to students at Estherville Lincoln Central's Demoney Elementary on Friday.

Richards weaved stories of how important reading was in his own life during and between magic tricks with help from some of the students in the audience.

He said his grandfather was one of his influences in developing a love for reading.

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He cited four benefits of reading.

n Reading help you be more responsible

n People who read have a bigger vocabulary.

n People who read tend to be more influential-people come to you to ask you questions

n Reading is fun-it can take you anywhere in the world.

Richards said that growing up, his son also had trouble reading and had to go to a reading specialist.

"Even if you read only 5 minutes, a day, take some time to read," said Richards. "Otherwise you miss out on some great stories."

Richards told the students that he spent 14 years as a part-time firefighter in Brooklyn, Minn.

"Before I started, I didn't realize all the reading it takes to be a firefighter," he said. "And I had a college education. By the time, I was done, it was like I had another degree."

Richards said his interest in magic also came from his grandfather.

"He (grandfather) claimed his friend was an assistant of Harry Houdini," said Richards. "As a kid, I asked, 'who's Houdini?' Grandpa would say, 'Go read a book about it.' That was his answer to everything."

Richards was in Estherville last year as well and reading teacher Jenny Christensen said the students are excited about reading after his presentation.

Also, ELC librarian Lili Jensen said students immediately began checking out more books about magic tricks.

"There's definitely an uptick of magic books checked out last year and we've tripled the number of books that we have on magic," Jensen said. "They're always in demand.

While reading is part of the curriculum all year long at ELC, special activities like Richards' visits are planned throughout March. Friday also happened to be a 'dress up day' for students who could dress up as their favorite book character.

Several Dr. Seuss characters could be seen in the student body including "Cat in the Hat" hats and several "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" characters.

Richards said he does educational presentations in a five-state area with 98 percent based closed to his home in Minnesota, but he also travels to Iowa, the Dakotas and Wisconsin. He also does programs on conflict resolution, drug awareness, national pride, and bullying.

He began learning magic was he was seven, but that didn't blossom into a full-time career until he was 40. Other jobs he had over the years dealt with education including as a care counselor and director of educational Services for Children.



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