Encouraging children to read sometimes requires a bit of magic, and former teacher Chad Crews takes that literally.
The North Augusta resident, who taught middle and high school in Burke County for three years, performs magic shows at Georgia and South Carolina libraries and schools to get children interested in books.
He performed his show, Authors of Mystery and Horror, for Greenbrier Middle School seventh-graders Tuesday.
"I just want them to be interested in the different authors," Crews said.
In his routine, he introduced the pupils to the works of Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.
Crews relied on predictions, mind-reading games and optical illusions to reach his audience.
He tantalized the pupils with brief descriptions of some of Poe's short stories, but he was careful not to give away the ending.
"I won't tell you what happened. You'll have to read the story," he said repeatedly.
He also told the seventh-graders how the friendship between Doyle and Houdini fell apart over a dispute about psychic powers.
Although they were a captive audience and eager to serve as volunteers, a couple of pupils expressed skepticism after one of the performances.
"I thought it was pretty cool, but I don't believe any of it," said John Bruni, 13.
Hannah Price, 12, helped Crews with his closing act in which he conjured up Houdini's spirit by raising a table off the ground.
She said she had no idea how he performed his tricks.
"I thought that it was really weird," she said.
Toni Hyde, the Greenbrier media specialist, said she welcomed any opportunity to get students into the library for entertainment.
"I love how he's introducing them to the authors they should know about," she said.
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