Dan Wardell of Iowa Public Television visited the Knoxville Public Library on June 6 as part of his annual Reading Road Trip.

Wardell hosts the IPTV series Kids Clubhouse Adventures. Knoxville was the first stop on his 2019 Reading Road Trip. During the summer, Wardell will visit 29 other libraries across the state and encourage children to go outside and play, read a book, use their imaginations and eat healthy foods.

Instead of reading a book to those who attended the event, Wardell created an interactive competition between the kids and adults in the audience. He asked audience members to sing along with him while he sang from the book “Over in the Garden.” Whichever group followed along the best would watch the loser perform opera in front of the audience.

Throughout the story, Wardell had audience members buzzing like bees, jumping like spiders and crawling like ladybugs. By the end of the book, he had awarded over one million points to the kids, while the adults had only been given three. As a result, the adults joined Wardell in a short opera performance from the final pages of “Over in the Garden.”

Following the event, the kids were given free Kids Clubhouse Adventures hats, as well as fruit and vegetable tracker bracelets from 5210, an organization that promotes healthy lifestyle choices to children. 5210 encourages kids to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables, have two hours or less of screen time, one hour of physical activity, and zero sugary drinks each day. The organization’s partnership with Wardell and the Reading Road Trip helps encourage children to turn off the television and instead read or play outside.

Wardell’s high-energy, comedic sing-along brought smiles and laughs to all who attended the event. When Wardell finished the book, he took pictures and talked to any of the kids who wanted to meet him. He even signed a few hats.

Everyone in attendance enjoyed something different from the event. Greta Jacobson, 3, of Prairie City liked singing along with Wardell and taking a picture with him. Hayden Reynolds, 6, and Jordan Metz, 7, of Knoxville liked listening to a new story, while sisters Lucy and Rosie Clark, 7 and 4, of Oskaloosa were happy to meet Wardell and get bracelets from 5210.

The kids were not the only ones who enjoyed the event. Wardell also loved being able to meet fans of his show from around the state.

“Walking in here, seeing all these kids and doing funny stuff in front of them, and then to have them feed back to me, I love it,” Wardell said. “It’s just the best. It’s a great gift I’ve been given.”

Wardell’s visit was one of the first events of the library’s summer reading program.

“The library has a lot going on,” said library director Roslin Thompson. “The summer reading program is one of the biggest things for the summer.”

All programs put on by the Knoxville Public Library are free and open to the public. A list of upcoming events is available on the library’s website.