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Library pair brings books to life for kids

Library pair brings books to life for kids


DECATUR — Braving wintry weather, more than 50 children came to the Decatur Public Library to see an elephant, a pig, a fairy, cowboys, iguanas and monsters.

Shedding their heavy coats, gloves and hats Thursday, the children sat cross-legged on the carpet to see the latest installment of READiculous, a program in which two performers, adorned with costumes and props, act out children’s books with the goal of making people enjoy reading.

“I liked the funny monster sounds,” said Caleb Willfong, 6, of Decatur, referring to the performance of “When a Monster is Born” by Sean Taylor.

The play-actors would roar and growl, causing eruptions of giggles and softer roars from the audience.

Thursday marked the third READiculous performance Caleb has attended.

“It’s great that they get to hear different stories in different ways that you might not think of,” said Caleb’s mother, Larissa Willfong.

The READiculous duo of Alissa Henkel, head of the adult division at the library, and Susan Bishop, a librarian in the children’s division, have performed for the past two years throughout the Decatur area.

“There are kids who love to read and kids who don’t love to read and think that it is something quiet and boring you do in a corner,” Henkel said. “We dramatize the books and show them how exciting reading can be.”

Perarlene Hambrick of Decatur attended the show with her husband and seven children, and although her children had seen READiculous on a few occasions, it was her first time experiencing the theatrics from the duo.

“I enjoyed it so much that I had to be told to be quiet,” she said. “It was very interactive, and I think it opened up the kids’ attention to different books.”

Shakaya Hambrick, 9, liked the wig and cowboy hats the performers put on when they read “16 Cows” by Lisa Wheeler, where the audience would “moo” at the appropriate time.

In addition to dramatic expressions and movements, costumes, and props, Henkel and Bishop also add accents to the play-acting equation including British, Spanish and Scottish.

They perform between seven and 11 books each session, and Henkel said their greatest challenge is to find books that have two characters. They always include books from the “Elephant and Piggie” series by Mo Willems and act them out while wearing an elephant and pig hat.

During each show at the library, copies of the books they perform are placed on a table. Shortly after the performance, all of the books were gone.


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