On March 25 each year we celebrate a very interesting day: National Tolkien Reading Day. Many people have not yet heard of this day, but for those who are fans of Tolkien’s works, this is a day to spend time reading some of their favorite books and watching many films based on his stories.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa on 3 January 1892. His Father’s family were of German origin and his mother was English. Tolkien grew up in South Africa until shortly after his father died, when his mother returned to England with her two sons.
Tolkien went on to become a scholar of the English language. He was extremely passionate about Old and Middle English and even became a professor of Old English at Oxford University.
However, Tolkien is most famous for his writing, particularly the stories The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings series (1954–1955). These tales take place in Middle-earth, home to humans, Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs, Hobbits, and other mythical creatures. Through these stories Tolkien became known as the father of the high fantasy genre. Over the years his works have been considered quite controversial, but this has not stopped millions and millions of people from reading and falling in love with them.
Although Tolkien died in 1973, his stories continue to live on in print and on screen. In 2001 the first of the Lord of the Rings movies was released. There were three Lord of the Rings films released over a number of years, and then beginning in 2012, a further three Hobbit movies were released as well. Academics and literary purists were critical of the films because they felt that some of the characters were not developed as Tolkien had intended. Fans however loved the films and they have become some of the most watched, awarded and loved movies ever made.
The Tolkien Society established National Tolkien Reading Day in 2003. The day was suggested by journalist Sean Kirst to honor the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and to promote his books to schools, libraries and the public in general. Although the day is known as “National Tolkien Reading Day” it is not an official national day.
Tolkien Reading Day is celebrated on March 25 because it is a very important date in the Lord of the Rings story. It is the date the main villain, Sauron, was defeated.
Reading can really help you grow your vocabulary and more importantly, understand the meaning and use words. This is because through reading words are also given context. This is not only useful for learning words, but it also helps us to remember them later. Tolkien’s works provide us with a huge number and range of words, meaning they give us a lot of practice material and exposure to language!
Tolkien was a master linguist and is known for his use of interesting language. It is said that he could speak 35 languages well, including Old Norse, Lithuanian and Finnish! These languages all impacted his writing, and he was known to use old words that were seldom used any more, like apace meaning quickly or aught meaning anything.
In addition to this, he also made up 15 different languages and dialects for the elves and other creatures in his stories. Reading Tolkien’s books not only teaches us unusual vocab but also gives us a glimpse at how language is formed and changes over time.
Tolkien’s books have been widely translated into various languages and dialects. For example, the Lord of the Rings has been translated into 83 languages/dialects including Esperanto, Galician, Basque, West Frisian, Yiddish, Uzbek, and Sinhala among many others! This means that at some point in your life you have probably read one of Tolkien’s books in your own language. Why not challenge yourself to now read the same book again… in English! Having read the book in your mother tongue is a huge advantage to reading and understanding the English version. This knowledge of the story can help you to guess the meaning of words and sentences and can make reading in English easier for you!
Finding a copy of Tolkien in English is not difficult! You can order a copy from Amazon or find one at practically any bookstore! Or if you do not wish to buy a copy, you can find all of Tolkien’s works at the public library. These days you can also find the stories as audio books, giving you the opportunity to also practice your listening comprehension. Why not give it a try?
Now that you have learnt who Tolkien was and why he has a special day, it’s now time to talk about how to join in on the fun!
The simplest way to honor Tolkien on March 25 is to read one (or more) of his books! You don’t have to finish the book in one day. But why not grab some friends and choose a story to read. That way you can help each other with the parts you don’t understand and discuss the story together!
On National Tolkien Reading Day it is not unusual to find public readings of his works. These are sometimes organized by Tolkien fan organizations, libraries, bookstores or even universities and colleges.
Another fun way to celebrate is to not read at all! Instead watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit films or any of the other movie adaptations of Tolkien’s work. Although this isn’t really reading it is still a fun way to honor a man that has given a lot to modern literature!
You don’t have to be a big fan to enjoy National Tolkien Reading Day. You can use the day to improve your vocabulary, learn about language or even improve your listening comprehension. The most important thing is to have fun learning in a slightly unusual way!
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