One of the most well-known fantasy writers of the modern era, J.R.R. Tolkien conjured up an entire magical universe that was not only filled with suspense and action, but also with heart, soul, and emotional strength. Tolkien Reading Day was created to encourage people to read this brilliant author’s works.
History of Tolkien Reading Day
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, translator, and Oxford professor during the 20th century. He is now most famous for his books that were eventually turned into films, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. In addition to these more popular works, he also wrote poems, children’s stories, and academic papers. Some of his lesser-known, unpublished stories were released by his son after his death.
With the impact of the Lord of The Rings film trilogy firmly influencing the popularity of the books, Tolkien Reading Day was set up by The Tolkien Society with the hope of getting even more people to read and discover that there is much more to Tolkien than just The Lord Of the Rings.
Although originally decided upon in 2002, the First Tolkien Reading Day did not actually take place until March 25th, 2003. This is because a journalist from New York enquired as to whether or not there was such an event for Tolkien in January 2002 and the society liked the idea so much they adopted it. However, there was no time to prepare anything for that year, so they postponed its public appearance until the following year.
The Tolkien Society chose an important date from Tolkien’s book, The Lord of the Rings, to celebrate the reading day: March 25th symbolizes the Downfall of Sauron, ruler of Mordor and a generally, all-around evil character.
How to Celebrate Tolkien Reading Day
Celebrating Tolkien Reading Day can be as simple as the name implies–pick up a book, story, or poem by the author and simply get to reading! Consider these other ideas for making the day into something special:
Read a Tolkien Story
Head over to the library and check out the various offerings of books written by (or about) Tolkien. While some of the longer novels certainly won’t be able to be read in one day, Tolkien Reading Day is a great day to at least make a start!
In addition to the more famous The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit books, some shorter offerings by the author may be found in collections of poems and short stories, such as:
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. A collection of poetry published by the author in 1962, based on a character who Frodo Baggins encountered in The Lord of the Rings.
- The Fall of Arthur. Lying unfinished at his death, this epic poem tells the story of the legendary King Arthur’s last days. The existence of this Old English alliterative metered poem became widely known not long after Tolkien’s death in 1973, but it was not published until 40 years later, in 2013.
- Farmer Giles of Ham. Originally written as an essay, this lighthearted, comedic medieval fable was written in the late 1930s and published in 1947. It is set in the Dark Ages and includes various mythical creatures, including a dragon named Chrysophylax. It can be found with other works by the author in The Tolkien Reader or Tales from the Perilous Realm.
Attend a Tolkien Reading Day Event
Check out a local library, school, literary society, or reading room to find out if they will be hosting events related to this day. Typical activities might consist of readings and discussions, but some groups even go so far as to re-enact scenes from The Lord of the Rings books, similar to acting out a scene from a play.
In recent years, The Tolkien Society has provided information packs, bookmarks and posters for schools taking part in this event. They have also provided free posters for events held by libraries and the general public, which can happen on the 25th or simply at some time near it.
Those who don’t have an event happening in their local area should consider hosting one, using resources from The Tolkien Society. https://www.tolkiensociety.org/
Watch Tolkien Films
While this suggestion might not be well-received by some die-hard reading fans, for those who are not avid readers (for whatever reason) it’s still possible to get exposure to Tolkien’s works by watching films. It should be noted that the films take quite a few liberties from the books. Maybe they are not the best way to get to know his work, but they could be a good way to introduce someone who has otherwise never been exposed to the professor.
Consider watching one of these Hollywood films on Tolkien Day:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)
- The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (2014)
- Tolkien (2019), a biographical drama adaptation about the orphaned author’s early life
Start a Tolkien Book Club
People who are particularly interested in the writings of this favorite author may want to gather together some friends, family members, or coworkers and get a book club started. As long as everyone has a copy of the book, the club is easy. Simply agree to read certain chapters ahead of time, then get together every week (or two weeks or even every month for those who are super busy). Have a conversation around themed discussion questions related to the book. It’s a great way to learn about literature and get to know people in a new way!