What would life be like without books? What would life be like if your freedom to read were taken away?
This fall, hundreds of Tuscarawas County residents will be asking these questions as they participate in the fith annual One Book, One Community project featuring Ray Bradbury's classic cautionary tale "Fahrenheit 451."
"The committee is excited to feature a classic this year," said the 2012 Committee Chair Michelle McMorrow Ramsell. "Some 29 middle and high school classrooms will be participating in this year's project, and many community members have expressed excitement about revisiting a classic that they may have read in school or one they missed and want to read."
Ray Bradbury, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 91, has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create.
A prolific author of more than 500 published works including short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, television scripts, and verse-Bradbury is among the most celebrated writers of our time. He was the recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.
Published nearly sixty years ago in 1953, Fahrenheit 451 tells the story of a futuristic society where television rules mankind and books are outlawed.
As alluded to in the title, referring to the temperature at which books catch fire, books and the places that house them are to be set on fire in Bradbury's book.
"The book is timely on so many levels," said Janet Ladrach who served as the chair of the selection committee who chose this year's book. "In this age of technology and multimedia, Bradbury makes us imagine a world where freedom to read may not exist and to consider the impact this could have on a free society."
Committee member Greg Romer said that the committee invites everyone to read the book and join the conversation this fall.
"At a time when literacy rates are in serious decline, One Book, One Community focuses attention not only on reading, but sharing and bringing people in the community together," said Romer. "Reading is the fundamental skill. Everything else follows."
Ramsell said opportunities to join the conversation are planned throughout September and October.
Book discussions will be held at libraries throughout the county, a showing of the 1966 film adaptation will be held at the Quaker Cinema in New Philadelphia on Thursday, Sept. 27, and teen activities are planned at libraries during Banned Books Week. The culminating event will be held in Founders Hall at Kent State Tuscarawas on Monday, Oct. 1 and will feature Sam Weller, the biographer of Ray Bradbury; Chris Crutcher, author and anti-censorship activist; and a panel discussion with four panelists who will take audience questions and offer insight from academic, intellectual freedom, legal, and international perspectives.
The One Book, One Community project is made possible by the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition and Kent State Tuscarawas in collaboration with area libraries, area schools, the Tuscarawas County Writers' Guild, the Tuscarawas County Center for the Arts, and business partners.
"This county-wide reading project is truly a community event and a feature project of the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition," said Erin Barlow, 2012 president of the Coalition. "We are grateful for the work of the committee, the partnership of many organizations, and the generous donations of area businesses and foundations."
Copies of the book and information about this year's event can be obtained at area libraries, and residents can connect with One Book, One Community on Facebook at www.facebook/tclcoboc or on Twitter @OneBookTusc.
To learn more about literacy issues and initiatives in our community, visit the Tuscarawas County Literacy Coalition website at http://www.tuscarawascountyliteracycoalition.org.