Magician gets kids to read … like magic

Discover what happens when ‘Presto the Magician’ combines professional entertainment with a love for libraries, at his library shows …

Jannene helps her husband and partner Kevin Witt slip into his magic vest, turning him into Presto the Magician.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Youngsters who came to the library one fine day this summer got a real treat. They saw a great show and learned more about their library when Presto the Magician came to support the Summer Reading Program.

When kids came in, they saw that the library’s activity room was decked out with a professional-looking magic stage, with curtain and backdrop.

As he finished setting up for the show, Presto (a/k/a/ Kevin Witt) smiled with enthusiasm as he said, “I enjoy doing library shows, because I love working with the kids – especially seeing the kids’ reactions. Having the kids come up afterward and ask for your autograph, it’s pretty neat.”

Scarves and feathered hoops magically change color in an instant – in the hands of Presto the Magician.

More than showing off a collection of unrelated magic tricks, Witt said he’s created special themed shows. “More than just delivering fun, we’re delivering a message. The theme of this show, for example, is ‘Be Creative @ Your Library’. The magic routines revolve around reading and exploring the library, not just books.”

Originally from the Seattle area, Witt said he and his brother started performing magic shows as early teens, and has made magic a career – nowadays with the help of his wife, Jannene, who is part of the act.

As the kids and parents filled all available seats (and floor space), Witt slipped behind the curtain, donned his shiny red magic vest, and transformed into Presto the Magician, with the assistance of Jannene.

In her staring role as The Princess, Marana takes the magic wand from Presto the Magician during this SE Portland library show.

Showtime at the library
Even though the activity room is small, Witt used a sound system to good advantage to slightly amplify his voice – and blend his speech with music and sound effects, effortlessly intertwining his magical stories and routines, adding an accomplished atmosphere to his presentation.

Although even very young kids have seen magicians on television, Witt gave many of these youngsters their first look at a real, live magician in action. As Presto, he incorporated information about how to get the most out of a library, with jokes that got giggles, and magic tricks that made both children and adults wide-eyed with surprise.

He and his wife now make their home in the Portland area and perform for school assemblies, fairs and festivals, birthday parties, libraries, daycares, preschools, and other family events. To learn more, see his website:

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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