By Leslie Radford: CNJ Staff writer
It may be a bunny or a magic book that Jamie O’Hara will pull out of his magician’s hat Friday when the Portales Public Library kicks-off its summer reading program.
O’Hara, who calls himself “The Magic Guy,” has been practicing magic since he was 7 years old.
“I have learned magic almost entirely from reading books,” said the 41-year-old Las Cruces magician. “I’m like anecdotal evidence to what mom says (about reading more). If there’s an adult who is funny and entertaining, and he learned this from reading, well, maybe they’ll look up to me in that sense — I learned to do magic from reading books.”
Portales Public Library children’s librarian Stephanie Levin said O’Hara has performed many times at her library.
“(The Magic Guy) is a lot of fun,” Levin said. “He brings a lot of energy and the kids just love him. He’ll be dressing up as a pirate to go along with our theme. Kids seem to enjoy pirates and there’s so many activities you can come up with for the kids to do with that theme.”
The library’s summer reading program runs through the end of July.
Levin said libraries across the state generally have some sort of summer reading program to keep children interested in reading. Portales’ program attracted about 350 children last year, according to Levin, and ranged from preschoolers to preteens.
“(The library) plans age-appropriate activities for the children,” she said. “We’ll be doing all sorts of fun stuff this summer. We have a couple of field trips planned this year.”
The Clovis-Carver Public Library will begin its summer reading program on Monday, according to Krissie Carter, children’s librarian.
O’Hara said he has been touring New Mexico libraries for the last 15 years providing entertainment during summer reading programs.
“I try to encourage the love of reading of books,” he said. “My job is to entertain and inform my audience. Secondly, I give them something to chew on. If people are laughing and having fun, their endorphins go up which makes them more receptive to the information being provided. I just help them have fun.”
He defines magic as being the art of illusion.
“Being a magician, people expect you to defy some law of life, or something,” he said. “But that’s simply not how it works. To me, it is the wonder of a child or adult that makes them forget about their troubles, to escape reality — that’s magic.”