Washington Evening Journal

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IPTV’s Dan Wardell makes a visit at the library

Jul 13, 2018
Photo by: Gretchen Teske Dan Wardell kneels down to talk to children about the importance of turning off the TV and enjoying a good book.

By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL


Although Dave Wardell is known for public telelvision, he visited the Washington Public Library as a special guest on Wednesday to encourage kids to turn off the TV and get outside. He made two guest appearances during his 12th annual Reading Road Trip. Washington was Wardell’s 22nd of 27 stops this summer.

Children’s librarian Jenisa Harris introduced him by saying to the audience, “Don’t tell Dan, but we saved the best for last.” Wardell opened the presentation by talking to the kids about all the fun they could have outside and how important it is to turn off the television. He encouraged them to use their imagination, and of course to read.In total he read and acted out three books with the kids, encouraging them to make their own sound effects.

At the end of his presentation, he announced the DanBot 2000, his own invention that kids would recognize from his TV show, was “getting his oil changed” and was not present. However, he passed out superhero cards to all kids attending on his behalf, anyway. He also reminded the children that library cards are always free and challenged them to check out three new books from the library that day.

Over 300 children and adults attended one or both of Wardell’s two sessions at the library. Many parents were encouraged to bring their kids because they thought that seeing someone they know from TV, who encourages them to read, would inspire them further. Angela Widmer, of Washington, brought her two daughters because she wanted them to see an actual person and not just a character. She explained that on the way over, she talked to her girls about the difference between animation and real-life people and that although Dan plays a character, he’s a real person. “It’s definetly important for them to be able to see someone,” she said.

Wardell agreed with her and said his greatest asset was that he is a real person and not just someone in costume. “That’s what Iowa Public Television is all about,” he said.

He credits parents bringing their children for his success as he’s read books for crowds as large as 750 people. “It’s gotten bigger than anything I’ve ever imagined, for sure,” he said.

Of the over 500 libraries in the state, he estimates he’s been to at least 350 of them. His journey with the reading road trip began 12 years ago, but his career at IPTV began in 1998.

“I always tell the story that I had too much energy at the station so they’re like, ‘get him out of here during the summertime,’ so they sent me out,” he jokes. “It’s just an outreach thing that we’ve always done to promote Iowa and being local.”

During his career, he’s been to the Washington library several times and said he gets encouraged when he sees people who have come to his shows in the past come back again. “I love standing up here and just feeding off the energy of the crowd,” he said. “This town has always been fantastic, there’s always big crowds, they’re always super excited and they just play along.”

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jul 14, 2018 21:00

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