Jerry Lewis perfected it years ago when he called on his celebrity friends to lend a hand in his annual televised Muscular Dystrophy telethons, raising money and awareness for his “Jerry’s Kids.”
These days, you might be asked to participate in any number of “a-thons:” jog-a-thons, dance-a-thons, spin-a-thons, and even lift-a-thons, each benefitting worthy causes.
This year, literacy is throwing its hat in the ring with the first ever National Readathon Day, sponsored by the National Book Foundation, Penguin Random House, Goodreads, and Mashable.
Scheduled to take place on Saturday, Jan. 24, from noon to 4 p.m. across all time zones, the event calls on book lovers from around the country to take a little time out of their busy lives to sit down and read together.
Designed to raise both awareness and dollars for literacy-promoting organizations, it reminds us that 40 percent of adult Americans struggle with literacy, while 14 percent are completely illiterate – a staggering statistic in 2015.
While working towards wiping out illiteracy altogether, the read-a-thon also invites participants to simply join in solidarity with other book-lovers to celebrate the joy of reading. You can participate by making an online donation, attending a reading party at selected local libraries and bookstores, or simply curling up in the comfort of your own home with just yourself and the company of a good book.
With a new crop of book-to-movie adaptations slated to hit the big screen in the coming months, it would also be a great opportunity to enjoy some of the read-it-before-you-watch-it books on your list.
Need a suggestion? While there are many books scheduled to get the Hollywood treatment this year, here are three highly anticipated releases that have already won acclaim in their book form. And, let’s face it, movies are great, but the book is always better!
“Still Alice,” by Lisa Genova. Scheduled to release on January 16, the film version just won a Golden Globe for best actress. This is the story of Alice Howland, a Harvard professor who, just before her 50th birthday is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Told through Alice’s voice, we see a vibrant woman’s descent into dementia, as well as how it affects those around her. Genova, who herself holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience, has created a story filled with engaging characters whose stories are buoyed by scientific accuracy.
“In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex,” by Nathaniel Philbrick. With its big-screen debut set for March 13, Philbrick’s book tells the tale of one of the most well known maritime disasters, the sinking of the Essex by a sperm whale. While the tragedy has inspired other writings, such as “Moby Dick,” this telling uses a long lost account written by the ship’s cabin boy to focus on the fate of the twenty crew members left to drift for more than ninety days on the open sea, and forced to turn to drastic measures in order to survive.
“Paper Towns,” by John Green. Slated to appear in theaters on June 19, fans of “The Fault in Our Stars” are sure to guarantee this will hit blockbuster status. Another of Green’s collection of well-written Young Adult novels, this tells the story of Margo, the larger than life girl next door, who is prone to grand, eccentric adventures, and Quentin, the boy who has loved her since childhood. After disappearing on the heels of one such adventure, Margo leaves behind clues for Quentin, which lead him on a journey to discover both where, and who exactly, she is.
For more information on National Readathon Day, please visit penguinrandomhouse.com/readathon, or search on twitter, using #TimeToRead.
Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected]