Reading relay celebrates printed word

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Wayne Hinshaw For the Salisbury Post
“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.”
(The first 5 sentences from the book ‘Hunger Games.’) KANNAPOLIS – Thus goes the reading of the first five sentences of the ‘Hunger Games’ from author Suzanne Collins’ 2008 young adult novel. The book is written in the voice of Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old, as she battles to survive in a bloody arena in a battle to death.
The book is about a dystopia imagined state where everything is unpleasant or bad.
“In the book everything was separated with one controlling government. All the communities feed into the dysfunctional government. With this ‘Relay for Reading,’ we are trying to bring the community together to achieve various goals together,” said Pamela Cooper, a staff member at the Kannapolis Library.
The idea of the ‘Relay for Reading’ was born a year ago in planning for the joint project “Hunger Games 411 Read It, Do It, Survive It.” It is a joint effort of four counties, Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly and Union, coming together to stage a series of events featuring discussions, movie nights, a video contest, corn mazes, lecture series, survival training days, knot tying, archery demonstrations and a final event at the Cabarrus Arena on Oct. 12.
Speaking about the ‘Relay’ event, Jessica Reid, librarian for Cabarrus Public Library in Kannapolis, explained that when the planning started, the Guinness World Record was 419 readers set in Mexico. That means 419 people read one sentence from the same book one after the other in a continuous effort. Since then, a group in Germany had 2,000 readers, topping the previous record. With the record now at 2,000 it was unlikely readers from Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly and Union Counties on Saturday would break the world record, but it was a chance to bring together readers from four counties in a united effort working toward a single goal.
The 46 readers who came together on Saturday had various reasons for coming to the event in Village Park in Kannapolis sponsored by the library staff. Betty Walenesky, the fourth reader, wanted to support the effort because she is in the Kannapolis Book Club and has read all three ‘Hunger Games’ books and viewed the movie. Her husband, Paul, saw the movie and is reading the first book.
The first reader, Arshad Baruti, said he has read the books, but his father, Masomakali, who came to read a sentence, has not read them.
Veleria Levy came to introduce her 8-year-old son, Joseph, to the books.
Ten-year-old Morgan Thorstenson, from Indian Trail, has read all three books and seen the movie. He liked both for the action content.
“I thought it was sad that a lot of kids died just for entertainment. I wanted to come today. I like being a part of the Guinness Book of World Records,” he said.
Reid filmed the readings so she could submit the recordings to the website “Banned Book Week.” Reid said “Hunger Games” was rated number three on the “Most Challenged Book of the Year” list.
When asked if the turnout was disappointing, librarian Emily Leachman said, “Any time we can get people out talking about books, it is a successful day.”
The “411: 4 Districts, 1 Book, 1 Community” is a collaboration of public libraries, parks departments, community colleges and other community partners. It is designed to provide an opportunity for citizens to read and discuss a single book together for pleasure and enlightenment and to participate in the fun and games.