PILOT MOUNTAIN — The Edward H. Stone Memorial Library wound up its summer reading program encouraging children to dream big with magician-educator Steve Sommers Wednesday morning.
Sommers was a natural choice for the program because the very act of performing is an example of dreaming big and following one’s dreams. He explained that his father was a preacher who used magic to teach object lessons in sermons. Sommers’ mother, who was a teacher, taught him to read before he attended school.
He said that from early on he had been interested in puzzles and tricks. School teachers let him perform for classmates during show-and-tell times. Sommers said he even remembers a third-grade teacher who gave students a weekly puzzle to solve for extra credit.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing things like that,” said Sommers. “Really I discovered I was a visual learner when I got older. Some of us have to see it before we learn it.”
He regularly used magic to teach in his classrooms at John Wesley College which is now named Laurel University. After 20 years of teaching, Sommers decided to follow his dream of performing magic to educate his audiences. Sommers said eight years ago he decided to pursue magic full-time.
When asked if magicians’ “tricks” necessarily mean they are tricksters, Sommers answered quickly.
“Most magicians are completely honest about what they do,” said Sommers. “We’re using visual arts to entertain and create an atmosphere of fun. I enjoy encouraging my audiences to learn.”
He also lent his heartfelt support to the library’s theme this summer.
“I’m living my big dream by performing,” said Sommers. He explained that his wife, Mary, went to school with basketball great Michael Jordan. Those in the know about Jordan realize that he was inspired by watching Olympic basketball. Sommers said that Mary told him Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Jordan persevered and later was on a gold-medal winning Olympic basketball team before earning even more honors in professional basketball.
Sommers used his illusions to guide the audience through a story where his rabbit “Hopper” dreams big through a magical “Big Dream Library.” A variety of contemporary children’s books and classic reads such as “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss were used to move Hopper’s story along.
“Hopper told me that ever since he was a little bunny he had big dreams,” said Sommers to the audience. “He told me he wants to join the ‘hare’ force or be a doctor that performs ‘hop-erations.’” The act did not consist solely of jokes though.
“It’s not what happens to you in life but what you do with it that matters. No matter what happens the important thing is how we work through it,” Sommers told the children as he reenacted an epic struggle with a knotted shoe lace in his youth.
Of course, the solution involved “Andy the Super Rope.”
Sommers also uses a variety of puppets in his act, such as “Tucker” the turtle, to encourage children to use their imagination and pursue their goals. He said that tips to help children dream big and then follow their dreams are on his website, AmazingTeacher.com/Dream/.
Reach David Broyles at dbroyles@Heartlandpublications.com or 719-1952.