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Kids read Roald Dahl in preparation for “Matilda the Musical”

Feb 27, 2017 04:38PM ● Published by Natalie Mollinet

At the Sprague Library, children received “The BFG” pin if they finished the book of the same name. (Natalie Mollinet/City Journals).

By Natalie Mollinet | natalie@mycityjournals.com 

Roald Dahl once wrote, “Oh please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.”

Between the months of January and February children in the Salt Lake valley were encouraged to turn off their TV and read a Roald Dahl book in preparation for the premiere of “Matilda the Musical” at the Broadway at the Eccles Theater in February.  

“You don’t have to be a kid to get involved,” Andrew Shaw, the communications director with the Salt Lake City Library, said, “but it encourages kids to visit the libraries.”

Every time a child finished one of Dahl’s books, they were encouraged to go to one of the city libraries and get a Ronald Dahl-themed button. Each city library had a different pin and in Sugar House, the Sprague Library had a “The BGF” themed button.

Dahl is famous for his books such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, “James and the Giant Peach”, “The Witches”, “Matilda” and even though he passed away years ago, his words still touch and entice children as well as adults.

“The stories are all sort of complicated and gritty,” Shaw said. “Those things make it interesting for adults but they’re also over-the-top characters and really take over your imagination, they’re really books for everyone. They’re classics and they’re easy to get into.”  

Sugar House parents love to share such books with their kids. One such a parent is April Garff who said, “I love to read Roald Dahl books to my kiddos. The books are short enough to keep the attention for the little ones, with pictures to keep their interest and good dialogue. The books are well-written and amusing for all ages.”

Paige Tanner of Sugar House said, “I like them because they are relatable that I could have been one of the children in the stories, and then I would get to go on an amazing adventure.”

“A lot of people get into the stories and get hooked after reading the classics like ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ or ‘The BFG’, they’re generational books,” Shaw said. “They’re stories that stick with you.”

Reading Dahl’s work, especially “Matilda” will help people better connect to the story and the show that runs Feb. 21-26 at the Eccles Theater.

“So many times you hear people say the book was better than the movie, but I think with ‘Matilda the Musical’ people will be able to see the connection between the book and musical and understand it so much better,” Shaw said.   

The Salt Lake City Libraries next read-a-thon is called March Madness where kids will be able to read books from local authors and vote on their favorites. More info is available on the Salt Lake City library’s website. 

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