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Animal Tales kicks off summer reading

The Russellville Public Library kicked off its annual summer reading program May 31 with an educational animal show by Animal Tales Mid-South.

The group’s mission is to educate, entertain and inspire by traveling around and conducting shows for a wide variety of audiences. Each program is designed to be fun while promoting learning in an engaging way.

Owner/director Celia Armstrong led the show at RPL. Naturalist Zoe Bonerbo and child volunteers assisted.

Friday’s event hosted a presentation called Creatures of the Galaxy: Out of this World Animals. Armstrong included information and lighted visuals for a variety of constellations, which tied into the live animal aspect of the show: For example, before meeting the scorpion, the constellation Scorpio was discussed.

While Armstrong encouraged the children to learn the official names of the constellations, she also said it’s fun to imagine one’s own name for them.

Children got the chance to meet a range of unique animals – like the Asian forest scorpion, which has a mild venom and a native habitat ranging from India to Malaysia. Armstrong walked around with the scorpion in a little aquarium with the lid removed, so everyone who wanted to could see it up close.

Next up was a Sudan plated lizard. In the wild, they are found among African savannahs. Camouflage and thick scales serve to help protect them from harm.

Following this came a snake encounter with a Hog island boa named Delilah. Three volunteers held their hands out to make a “shelf” and help Armstrong hold her.

Luna, a Flemish giant hare, was another special guest. Armstrong explained while hares are similar to rabbits, hares tend to have longer ears and longer hind legs and be larger overall.

Mr. Prickles, a hedgehog, was next in the lineup. Armstrong talked about hedgehogs, asking children if they thought they could shoot their quills – a common misconception many people have about porcupines and hedgehogs. She explained they cannot shoot their quills and compared it to the human inability to shoot hair. Volunteers petted the hedgehog and were asked to describe what it felt like.

The last animal of the show was a kinkajou – sometimes called honey bears because they raid bee nests. One interesting feature of the kinkajou is that its tail is longer than its body. They look a bit like monkeys.

The other big event that will be part of the summer reading program at the Russellville Public Library is a visit from the McWane Science Center July 5. Other smaller programs will round out activities throughout the summer.

Registration for the summer reading program ended May 31.

“When setting your goal for summer reading, I’d like for you to challenge yourself to read steadily,” library director Ashley Cummins encouraged in a letter to participants. “Research shows that children who read for fun have better test scores and are more empathetic their daily life … Everyone who submits their reading log at the end of the summer will get to celebrate with us at the Russellville City Pool!”

For more information about Animal Tales Mid-South, visit the Facebook page, Animal Tales, LLC, or