The Tolkien Society's recent announcement that 25th March would be Tolkien Reading Day was met with enthusiasm by schools and libraries around the world.
The event was aimed at encouraging the use of Tolkien's works in education and to get schoolteachers and library staff to participate in reading Tolkien to their classes and in their libraries. Schools from across Britain and around the world took part. Reading day events, or information about how to put them on, occurred in places as near as Birmingham and Essex and as far apart as Venezuela, or Illinois, New York and Mississippi, USA. Events included readings to classes, getting reading groups to read and discuss chapters from The Lord of the Rings, or even act them out dramatically. At one school in Essex there were readings from a variety of Tolkien's works, comparisons between roman and elven alphabets and a discussion with ninety 6-12 year olds of Tolkien, Star Wars and Harry Potter. In Peoria, Illinois, Professor Mike Foster (the Society committee's North American Representative) gave a lecture on travel through literature including readings from The Lord of the Rings. The event in New York organised by Heren Istarion, the Society's New York smial, at Marymount Manhattan College included readings, a trivia quiz, demonstrations by Games Workshop of their games and prizes were sponsored by Houghton Mifflin (Tolkien's US publishers), SideshowWETA and New Line Cinema. Admittedly the event ran on the 29th but this was due to time and venue constraints; remember the Tolkien Society and all its local groups are run by volunteers in their spare time.
The Tolkien Reading Day event also highlighted the recent completion of an Education Section within the Society's website www.tolkiensociety.org/ed/ which Tolkien fans in education (pupils and teachers) can use to assist learning and teaching. The pages can be downloaded and printed off free of charge by educationalists. Please note the texts on these pages are copyright of the Tolkien Society and East Lothian Museums. The Education pages comprise a range of ideas for teachers of Citizenship at Key Stage one (infants) using The Father Christmas Letters, to ideas for university lecturers working on Middle English texts like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Some of the information has been developed from our responses to questions the Society has been sent by schoolchildren from around the world.