Sunday, March 10, 2024

Chi-town Bookshop makes reading fun


When I lead workshops at schools or theater conferences, one of the most common questions I get is: Which of your plays is your favorite? I'm not the first writer to say that choosing a favorite play or novel or story is like choosing a favorite child. You just can't do it.

And that's what I tell them.

But they never let me off the hook, so I usually turn the answer around to something like: This is what I like about some of my plays.

I truly believe The Last Radio Show is my funniest play, especially with the way the skits-within-the-play capture the rapid-fire cadence of those old-time radio shows.

Million Dollar Meatballs is a perennial favorite of producing groups, remaining as popular today as it was when it was first published nine years ago, and has the best physical humor of any of my plays.

I'm really happy with how my latest play, It Happened on Route 66, turned out. While it has a similar humor to my other plays, this 1950's-set comedy adds layers of romance and nostalgia that seems to hit a sweet spot with audiences.

And of course I have a special fondness for The Enchanted Bookshop. Not just because it's my best-selling play, but because schools and community theaters have found a ton of creative ways to use their production to encourage kids to read.

Some theaters give a free book to each child in the audience. Others encourage kids to attend the play dressed as their favorite book character. Still others have characters from the plays read books to the kids, either before the show or in on online promo.

The Kirk Players of Mundelein, IL have found yet another way to make reading fun.

This long-running community theater (58 years and counting!) is performing the show April 5-7, and to encourage kids in their community to read, they're holding a drawing for two free tickets to the show. To enter the drawing, kids need to read one of the books referred to in The Enchanted Bookshop and comment on the theater company's Facebook page as to what they liked about the book.

That's a lot of books to choose from. For those keeping score at home, these are the books on that list:

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz



Oliver Twist

Treasure Island

Doctor Doolittle

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland


Hopalong Cassidy

White Fang

Moby Dick

Robinson Crusoe

Little Women

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Crime Never Pays

20,000 Years in Sing Sing

Mary Poppins

Don Quixote

Gone with the Wind

Not all of these books have characters in the play, of course. Some, like Moby Dick and Don Quixote, are only mentioned in passing (although the Don Quixote character does play a major role in my lighthearted prequel, How to Enchant a Bookshop.)

Anyway, I love the idea of this drawing. I'm sure it'll motivate a lot of kids to read, although there's at least book on this list that I hope no kid picks up.

It could really be a slog.

No comments:

Post a Comment