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Star Wars Reads Day

on Mon, 10/07/2013 - 00:00

The Star Wars saga did not begin on the big screen in 1977 but within the pages of a paperback adaptation of the film that was released in December 1976, almost six months before A New Hope made its premier. Author Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye was then published two years later, an original narrative featuring the majority of the Star Wars characters. In 1991, meanwhile, the further adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia continued with Heir to the Empire, the first of a three-volume trilogy by Timothy Zahn detailing events that occurred after Return of the Jedi. Over the decades that followed, close to 100 additional books have been written containing both Jedi and Sith alike, creating an Expanded Star Wars Universe that extends from the birth of the Jedi thousands of years earlier to future storylines featuring the children of Han Solo and Leia Organa.

In order to celebrate the significance of the written word within the world of Star Wars—and to bring attention to the importance of literacy in the process—Lucasfilm launched the first Star Wars Reads Day in 2012, bringing together fans, authors and artists at book stores and libraries across the country. The second annual Star Wars Reads Day, meanwhile, was held on Saturday, October 5, 2013, and included an afternoon-long event at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville Branch. Star Wars fans of all ages had the opportunity to create origami Yodas, Jabba the Hutt puppets and Millennium Falcon paper airplanes, while Star Wars mini-posters, buttons and bookmarks were given away to anyone who came to the library that day and used its services, renewed or opened an account, or even simply read a book within its confines.

“Lucasfilm makes it super easy for organizations to get involved in Star Wars Reads Day,” Kelly Lynn Thomas, a part-time employee of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Lawrenceville and organizer of the local event, explained at the time. “All you have to do is sign up for the official newsletter so you know how to get the publisher giveaways and prizes for your library or store, and you’re set. Beyond that, you can make your event as official or unofficial as you want. They encourage you to use the official logo and promote your event as much as possible. It helps them promote their products, sure, but it also gets kids interested in reading. At least, that’s the goal.”

Although 2013 was the first year that Star Wars Reads Day was celebrated at the Carnegie Library in Lawrenceville, it was not Kelly Lynn Thomas’ first involvement with the annual project. “I should probably make a confession here—I’m one of ‘those’ Star Wars fans,” she said. “The ones who go to all the conventions and wear costumes and have Star Wars tattoos and no more room in the house because of all the posters and toys and comics. I’m also one of those people who never goes anywhere without a book. I read constantly. I was actually at the panel at Star Wars Celebration VI when they announced the first Star Wars Reads Day. I totally geeked out, and knew I had to get involved.”

That involvement led Kelly Lynn Thomas to the local chapter of the 501st Legion, a Lucasfilm-endorsed fancub in which members dress up as Stormtroopers and attend various charity events throughout the year. “I had a blast taking photos and watching the kids with the costumed characters,” Thomas commented in regards to the 2012 Star Wars Reads Day. “It was a great event, but I wanted to do something a little more focused on reading and literacy this year. Since I now work at the library, I thought CLP-Lawrenceville would be the perfect place to host an event.”

Star Wars Reads Day is indeed a “perfect” fit for the Lawrenceville Branch of the Carnegie Library as the organization has previously sponsored numerous events—including Adult Game Nights, Lego Days and a Book Buzz reading group—as part of its mission to make the library a viable component of the local community. The location also fits within the official stated goal of Star Wars Reads Day. “Star Wars Reads Day is the kind of initiative that we at Lucasfilm love to support,” Carol Roeder, Director of Publishing at Lucasfilm, explained in 2013. “Reading and Star Wars have gone hand-in-hand since 1976, when the novelization of the original Star Wars movie was released. Over the years, many fans have discovered the joy in reading through Star Wars books, and we hope to continue encouraging more people to read.”

Kelly Lynn Thomas couldn’t agree more. “Star Wars is one of those things that’s so huge, there’s room for everyone to move around in it and express themselves,” she said. “I think that’s one reason it has such an active fanbase. Plus, Lucasfilm has been so supportive of us. So for me, Star Wars Reads Day is a way to express my love for Star Wars and reading, and to give back to the Star Wars community. It’s the perfect combination of my interests.”

And the interests of millions of other Star Wars fans as well.

Anthony Letizia

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