NEA Big Read

Anaheim, California reads Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451

May 18, 2017

From January to March 2017, Anaheim Public Library in Anaheim, California hosted NEA Big Read in their community using Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Below are some highlights from their very successful Big Read.

Members of Anaheim Fire and Rescue encourage reading in this promotional poster. Photo by Lori Shensky.

Quotes from their final report:

"The most common reaction to Fahrenheit 451 was surprise at how uncannily relevant it is in our current political climate. At the time of our Big Read programming, issues regarding intellectual freedom and the trust we place in our news sources were at the forefront of public discourse. Many readers found Fahrenheit 451 to be a powerful reminder that many of these issues are not new, as Ray Bradbury was voicing his concerns about them in 1953."

"[B]etween our keynote speaker at the opening reception, the lectures on book burnings and intellectual freedom, and the book discussion groups, our community came together to discuss all of these issues in an engaged and thought-provoking manner. Looking back, probably the most impressive aspect of these conversations was that, even though potentially divisive political and social issues were being addressed, discussions never became partisan, and certainly not disrespectful. Through our NEA Big Read programming, citizens with diverse points of view found a venue to come together to share their ideas, an invaluable opportunity for community building they couldn’t have found elsewhere."

Actors playing Fahrenheit 451 firemen burst in to the opening reception to confiscate books! Photo by Lori Shensky.

"One of the biggest impacts The Big Read had was raising awareness that the library isn’t just a building full of books. It’s also a destination for engaging programming and entertainment, life-long education, community gatherings, and intellectual discussion. Between our outreach efforts, AnaCon, and other programming, The Big Read brought people into contact with the library who would not otherwise have come, and many of them found we offer more than they expected and plan to return."

"The NEA Big Read also helped support our first-ever AnaCon – Sci-fi and comics at the Anaheim Library. This Comic Con-inspired event also attracted people to the library who were not current library users, and helped APL to establish partnerships with booksellers, authors, artists, food vendors, and more. All of the partners we worked with enjoyed the event, and said they would be happy to return next year. This was also the best-attended event the library has ever hosted, and we received nearly all positive feedback. We plan to make AnaCon an annual event, expanding to include more authors and presenters, and community partners."

Even Stormtroopers enjoy a good book, as this AnaCon attendee demonstrates. Photo by Chloe Van Stralendorff.

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