File this under intriguing: Walden Media, the company releasing a live-action film version of the classic Charlotte's Web this holiday season, is calling on teachers, librarians and other educators to celebrate the book on December 13. In a unique twist, they're asking everyone who plans such celebrations to read the same passage from the book at 12:00 noon (EST).
They're attempting to break the Guiness Book of World Records for "most people reading aloud simultaneously." Apparently (according to their website) the current record "is held by 155,528 students from 737 schools in the United Kingdom who read William Wordsworth’s poem, “Daffodils,” on March 19, 2004."
You can go here if you're interested in finding out more information about how your local schoools and libraries can register. There are several PDF forms at the site that need to be downloaded and read by anyone organizing a celebration. Apparently the registration and record-keeping processes for such a record-breaking attempt are a bit complicated!
One has to hand it to Walden Media. I know...the cynical part of me says this is probably a really clever marketing ploy to get more people to watch their movie. I think it is that, truth be told, but that doesn't mean that's all it is. Thus far I have been very impressed by their commitment to making good movies about good books, and they've made some excellent choices of source materials. While I struggled mightily with certain aspects of their adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, especially from a theological perspective, I still think they lavished a lot of care on that film and it's likely that their efforts resulted in more children reading the books. And frankly, I think they stand a good chance of getting Charlotte's Web just right...if they do it well and with integrity, this is a book that could be winningly adapted to film.
And hey, who can resist the idea of thousands of people in different locations all across the country stopping at the same moment and saying "Salutations!" (They've chosen a two page passage that begins with Charlotte's greeting to Wilbur.) I find it a rather fun and lovely thought!
So let's pass the word along to our local libraries. December 13 is Charlotte's Web day!