WFSU teams up with public library to promote reading

A video presentation was part of the “Great American Read” event at WFSU TV studio.
Photo by Desmond Howard

By Desmond Howard

Outlook writer

No one knew exactly why something strange was occurring in the room.

They wanted to know why all types of heroes, villains and grizzly monsters were parading around the WFSU TV studio.

The answer eventually came to light – they were there to celebrate some of the characters they admire from books they’ve read.

The depiction of characters was a part of the “The Great American Read,” an event presented last Thursday by WFSU Public Media in conjunction with Leroy Collins Library as a celebration of literature.

The event was one in a five-part series highlighting different genres of literature.  People dressed as their favorite characters from novels of monsters and notorious villains enjoyed popcorn, drinks and cake as they voted for their favorite novels on a PBS list.

PBS has polled people across the nation in an attempt to find out what is America’s favorite book. The survey resulted in a list of 100 of the nation’s favorite novels.

Since then, millions of people have voted for their favorite book in a program that has become known as “The Great American Read.”

“Those 100 books are on a website where people can go and vote for their favorite book,” said WFSU’s Kim Kelling, one of the people who organized the recent event.

PBS will release America’s  No. 1 book on Oct. 18, Kelling said.

Ultimately they hope to find out if there are still enough people that enjoy reading novels to accurately poll America’s favorite book. While there is a consensus that readers are fewer among the “microwave generation,” many people insist that their favorite pastime is still reading a good book.

Scott Joyner, operations manager at Collins Library, has seen proof of that by the number of books checked out daily.

“They can have them for three weeks,” Joyner said. “If that means they want to read five pages a day because they want to get up and do something else that’s fine, but they’re still working their way through it and that’s all we want them to do; keep reading and keep the love of reading out there.

“I’ve been reading my whole life. I was reading Stephen King in elementary school (because) I had those types of parents. I read every night before I go to bed; I read on my lunch break. It’s just something I love to do and I’m happy I have a job that kind of funnels into it.”

Reading is so popular that it has even become a regular event for families, as in her case, Kelling said. She credits books like “Harry Potter” for helping her son learn to read.

“I attribute those books to helping him become a lifelong lover of reading,” said Kelling. “ We read the first book to him and by the middle of the second book he started reading them himself.

“I think that’s a great way as a family to get kids excited about reading; read together and have that magic of the story take over. Then they’ll want to read on their own.”

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