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OTTUMWA — Area kids spent Tuesday morning listening to Iowa Public Television's Dan Wardell tell them the story of Snow White and the Seven Superheroes.

Wardell has spent the last eight years traveling the state of Iowa and telling children stories as part of the Reading Road Trip program.

"They look at library attendance and numbers that watch the show, then they compare schools in different areas," explained Ottumwa Public Library Librarian Jenna Bates. "They let us know if they are coming at the beginning of the year."

In this version of the story, Snow White calls on seven healthy superheroes to help fly a spaceship that will allow her to escape the wrath of the Evil Queen. Gorilla Boy, Cheetah Girl, Human Alphabet and all their friends come to the rescue until they arrive on a planet filled with junk food and soda pop. Wardell comes to the rescue and gives the superheroes carrots, milk and whole grain breads that magically restore their powers.

During story time, Wardell emphasizes the importance of trading video games and television sets for outdoor games and activities.

"Hold onto your hair, this is shocking news. Even though I work at Iowa Public Television, a TV station, I want you to go up to your TV when you get home and I want you to turn them off," said Wardell. "That means video games too."

The story is focused on getting kids up and active. To complete the story, the kids needed to get up, jump around and dance. Parents, grandparents and older siblings all joined in on the dancing. The event is designed to keep kids up and active as well as educate them on the importance of nourishing their brains and bodies with healthy foods.

"I want you to turn your TVs off. Instead, I want you to go outside and use your imagination. Most importantly, I want you all to turn your TVs off and read a good book," said Wardell. "And I promise you, you will be bigger, stronger and faster readers than ever before by eating healthy foods."

Kids from all over the spent a morning of their summer vacation having fun with education. Stacey Matusick brought the 15 kids enrolled in Eddyville Summer Day Camp to Ottumwa just for the event. After attending Reading Road Trip a few times before, she knew she had to bring the kids so they could see Wardell.

"He travels all over Iowa ... he does come to Eddyville, but he comes to Ottumwa so we bring them because some of these guys have never seen him before. And it's really fun," said Matusick.

Wardell has made the trip to Ottumwa twice before and and will most likely come back in the future as well. According to Bates, the Ottumwa Public Library has a reading event at least once a week in the summer and a few times throughout the school year, which are open to the public.

— To see Danielle Lunsford's Twitter feed, follow @CourierDanielle.


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