Photo by Rachel Shirey
Ringling Brothers’ Circus clowns Dave and Cherie bring laughs to Clayton County children, reading “If I Ran The Circus” by Dr. Seuss.
By Rachel Shirey
JONESBORO — Jessica Johnson, 10, stood frozen in excitement as clowns Dave and Cherie placed four spinning plates on her head and in her hands while her American Doll Rebecca and a crowd of jealous children looked on.
Dave and Cherie, clowns with The Ringling Brothers Circus, stopped at the Clayton County Headquarters Library Friday evening to amuse kids with their circus antics while reading “If I Ran The Circus” by Dr. Seuss.
They have visited 12 libraries in four days, all with crowds of kids exceeding 50.
The clowns bickered like siblings and fought for the children’s attention, as the youngsters screamed and laughed so loud it echoed throughout the front quarters of the library.
Dave and Cherie said their goal was to encourage imagination in the children and to show them that anything is posible in the world of books — including dragons.
“This is what we love about reading books,” Dave said to the children. “When you get to the most exciting, suspenseful part, you don’t have to wait until next week to find out what it is. All you have to do is turn the page.”
The clowns balanced chairs on their chins, used spinning plates, juggled and danced as they used their imagination to create their own circus following their story time.
“My favorite part was when I was in the act,” said Chelsea Bristol, 7, of Jonesboro. “It was amazing.”
Chelsea played a version of “monkey in the middle” as Dave and Cherie juggled pins and threw them around her.
“I think it’s a win-win situation,” Cherie said. “We get the kids into the library, where they see how much fun reading is, and we try to inspire kids to read. How much clowns love reading books and being inspired to do our own circus show. And then the kids can read books and get a free ticket to the circus. It’s a fun reward.”
“They can read about anything,” she added. “They can read about circus or dragons and they’ll be inspired. It’s really cool. It teaches life lessons. If they start reading young, they can see how much fun it is as opposed to just homework form school.”
Dave said he even saw children walking out of the library with books in their hands.
The Ringling Brothers Circus has partnered with the libraries in Clayton County to encourage kids to read. If children read five books between now and the beginning of March, they can earn a free ticket to the circus.
“So the books can be anything, they don’t even have to be library books, but it encourages kids to come to the library check out the books and since they have to come to us to validate the vouchers, it encourages them to use the library,” said youth services librarian Bea Mengel.
Each library has an award club card kids can sign up for, which includes show dates and a suggested reading list. Headquarters library had about 900 club cards to give out and has already distributed 700 to the community.
“They just want to do an educational thing for the community and to get the community involved, and I think that’s a good thing, for a big organization like Ringling Brothers to be able to partner with a local library to encourage reading,” Mengel said. “They’ve done promotional things with the library in the past, but nothing tied into the reading program where [kids] had to read a certain number of books. So this is the first time we’ve participated with that program. I’m very glad they have.”
According to the Ringling Brothers website, the “Dragon Tour” will be in Atlanta from Feb. 13 until Feb. 18, and in Duluth from Feb. 21 to March 3. Visit your local Clayton County Library to sign up for an award members card to participate in the program.