• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Library uses animals to encourage reading

COWBOY CHRIS of Silly Safaris will bring one or more of the Indiana animal conservation and education group's animals to Simmons Elementary Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. The visit is part of the Woodford County Library's summer program aimed at encouraging children to read. (Photo submitted)

Bookie Wilson and company will go to almost any lengths to encourage children to read - including enlisting the help of creatures that have never opened a book. Wilson, who's the Woodford County Library's assistant youth services librarian, helps organize the library's free summer Fridaynight programs at the library or elementary schools. The next, Friday from 6 to 7 p.m. at Simmons Elementary, will feature a visit from Coyote Chris of Silly Safaris, an Indiana animal conservation and education group. "Chris will bring a lot of different animals. It's always a surprise, too - he doesn't tell us what he's bringing. In the past, he's brought a snake, a huge tortoise, one year he even brought an anteater and a kangaroo," said Wilson. "Kids and families always like programs that involve animals. They like magic shows, they like puppet shows - we had a wonderful program last week from the Bright Star Theater ... so we always try to have a couple of fun animal shows during the summer, just because everybody really enjoys them," Wilson said. Parents and children who can't make it to Simmons Friday night - or just didn't get enough of the animals - can meet more unusual creatures the next morning at the library's main branch at 115 North Main Street in Versailles. A miniature horse named Dobby will be the star of the show at the library's Super Saturday Story Time Saturday at 11 a.m. Co-stars will include a chicken and bunny. "We'll have lots of good books for kiddos to pick out that they can read about horses of all types and especially miniature horses," said Wilson. Not every child loves to read - but nearly every child loves animals, Wilson said. After meeting the animals, some of the non-readers may decide they want to learn more about them. "Typically, when we have a program here in the library, we'll pull books from whatever topic we're doing. So if it's a show about jokes, and we're going to have a magician come and tell jokes, we might have books on magic tricks, or funny joke books," Wilson said. Of course, most non-domesticated animals aren't potty-trained, but Wilson said there've been no calls for clean-ups in the children's section - yet. "We tend to plan ahead for that and our presenters usually are very prepared for that, so knock on wood, so far, so good," Wilson said.

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