Reading is not a crime

Ray Bradbury is one of my heroes, and my husband and I are handing out Fahrenheit 451 during World Book Night next week. So I was very intrigued by Toronto Public Library’s plans to promote reading via Fahrenheit 451, Toronto’s 2013 “One Book:”

I love several things about this image. How cool to promote a community-wide read as a month-long festival. And what a great integration of theme, artwork, and slogan for a promotion.

But, the coolest thing about Keep Toronto Reading is not that poster. It’s this one:

TorontoARGposter 425x550 Toronto Public Library Enters Alternate Reality (Gaming)

And it’s not really the poster that’s cool (although it is) so much as the thing it is asking Toronto’s residents to do: play KTR 451, an alternate reality game science fiction writer and video game developer Jim Munroe created for the festival. Before you protest that Fahrenheit 451 is all about the dangers a technology-dominated society poses to books and reading, keep in mind that an ARG is not a video game, nor is it conducted entirely online. Munroe explains that an ARG is: “an experience that spans different kinds of media and often involves real world actions. For instance, you might be told via an email to meet your fellow players at Union Station or to watch a video that has clues as to how to solve a mystery.”

Over at BoingBoing, Munroe explains there will be one mission a week for three weeks leading up to a live event. Library Journal notes “players must visit both a physical library branch and the library website, as well as interact with the library on social media. (They can do so from the library computers, ensuring that the digital divide does not prevent some Torontonians from joining the fun.)” The LJ piece goes on to outline the three missions in detail.

Ray Bradbury loved libraries. I imagine he’d love being part of an effort to draw today’s digital natives into their branch libraries. And since one of the missions involves participants gathering evidence of “a time when people loved books unabashedly” — the present — I hope he’d be honored by KTR 451.


Movies and books

Last week’s Shelf Renewal web crush of the week is “Based on the Book” — a terrific project of the Mid-continent Public Library in Missouri. Last year when I worked in a college library I lamented the number of students who came to the reference desk asking for the movie versions of books they’d been assigned. I love movies, but I worried students were seriously missing out by not reading the books.

I still believe that, but of course it works the other way too — people read things they might not have because of interest in the adaptation.  I picked up Cloud Atlas like many other people after the film’s previews caused a buzz and a boost in the book’s sales. Both my teens are very excited about The Hobbit film and one of them is reading the book now. Both my husband and my daughter have read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories as a result of enjoying adaptations of Sherlock Holmes on television or at the movies.

Sometimes I’ve sought out a book I hadn’t read before because I’ve enjoyed the Masterpiece version — for example, The Cranford Chronicles by Elizabeth Gaskell. I hope lots of people tuning in to Half the Sky on PBS this week will also read that very interesting, shocking, and uplifting book.

Even younger kids can enjoy the film-book connection and sometimes, a movie might be a fun incentive for encouraging a reluctant reader to finish a book.’s “Books on Screen” is a good resource for the younger set.  For film buffs, arguing the merits of movies based on books is endless fun; this blog post by Beth Carswell at AbeBooks is a starting point for a discussion.

My town’s community wide read and our state Center for the Book’s “Big Read” based on the NEA program both incorporate films related to the book selection. I’ve often thought a summer program inviting teens to create short films (book trailers? 15 min. versions of classics? ) might be fun. Younger kids might like to make book/movie posters.

How does your library use films to drive interest in books? Do you create displays related to popular films? Host film/book discussions?