Children visiting the Fort Dodge Public Library took a special trip in their imaginations Monday morning.
With a little help from Iowa Public Television host Dan Wardell, more than 300 children were taken away on a journey into outer space via their own imaginary space ships as they sought after five lost aliens who had wandered away from their mother.
Wardell made a stop at the library as part of his annual summer Reading Road Trip to 65 cities across the state encouraging children to read, use their imaginations and make healthy choices.
A group of children listen as Dan Wardell, host of the Iowa Public Television Kids Clubhouse, tells the story of the five little aliens during Wardell’s Reading Road Trip stop at the Fort Dodge Public Library Monday morning.
Before embarking on their adventure, which was themed around the summer reading program's "Dream Big, Read," theme, a few lucky attendees wrote their biggest dreams on paper and placed them in Wardell's "magic lamp" and as Wardell read them, asked "can you dream it, can you do it, can you become it?" To which he received an excited "Yes!" back from more than 300 children throughout the two morning sessions.
As they prepared for their trip to space, Wardell told his own original, interactive story of the five little aliens who went away from home and needed helping getting back to their mother, and the kids perfected their best alien sounds as rock stars with guitars and opera singers.
Then they were off as they boarded their "space ships" and headed for space with a mission of bringing the five little aliens home.
Along with the stories, Wardell's message encourages his young viewers to turn off the television, play, use their imaginations, read good books and eat healthy foods.
Wardell quizzed the kids on the best food choices and matched them to the correct portion on a diagram of a plate, giving the young audience members a lesson on how many servings of fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat products they should have each day, and with each correct answer, they got themselves closer to "home" from their outer space journey.
Upon returning "home" Wardell asked the audience again of what they can do to have fun while learning and using their imaginations.
"Did we have fun today?" he asked as the crowd once again gave a very enthusiastic "yes." "How much TV did we have to watch to do it? That's right, we used our imaginations."
At the end of the program, participants each received their own "flying saucer" - a flying toy disc - to take home with them, as well as the chance to have their picture taken with Wardell.
Daniel Klingele approached Wardell and told him he had learned something from watching him on the Kids Clubhouse.
"I learned to eat healthier and pick healthy foods because of you," 6-year-old Klingele told Wardell, which earned him two thumbs up and a high five from his favorite TV host.
Tyler McDowell enjoyed the chance to pose for a photo with Wardell.
"Meeting him was best," said 7-year-old McDowell.
While the children had the opportunity to enjoy his program, Wardell said he enjoys coming to Fort Dodge.
"We've come five out of the past six years to Fort Dodge," Wardell said. "When you have a great library like this, a great librarian and great kids it's always lots of fun."