The Big Read has come to Baltimore County!

Photo of TU and Towsoon High Students standing in a formation spelling out "451". Photo by Kanji Takeno, Towson University

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A major initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read aims to reverse a decades-long decline in literary reading and restore literature to the center of American culture. Through generous grants and other support, The Big Read encourages local organizations to develop community reading programs focusing on a classic work of American literature.

Baltimore County is one of nearly 200 communities participating in The Big Read in 2007. The lead organization in this effort, Towson University is joined by several county agencies, non-profits, and partners from the private sector.

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture.
Just get people to stop reading them."

-Ray Bradbury

Our selection for The Big Read campaign in Baltimore County is Ray Bradbury's classic dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451. Published over 50 years ago, Fahrenheit 451 is a haunting, cautionary tale, prophetic in its warnings about the seductive power of mass media and the conformist impulse in American society. Guy Montag—a new breed of fireman in this future society, where all buildings are fireproof and firemen exist to search out and burn forbidden books—encounters a teenage girl while walking home contentedly from work late one night. A brief conversation with his young neighbor ensues, changing Montag's life forever...

Whether approaching this indelible book for the first time or reacquainting yourself with an old favorite, we hope you'll join us in reading Fahrenheit 451 and participating in one of our Big Read events.

Featured Events

The Big Read program for Baltimore County runs September 26, 2007 through October 30, 2007 and includes the following events:

Wed., Sept. 26, 2007 - 3:30 p.m. - Towson University, Stephens Hall Theatre
The Big Read Kickoff Event
An aerial group photograph will be taken on the lawn in front of Stephens Hall (weather permitting) at 2:30 p.m. The public is cordially invited to participate!

Join us at Stephens Hall Theatre as we kick off our month of Baltimore County programming for The Big Read and celebrate the ways literature enriches our daily lives. Featured speakers will include Towson University President Robert Caret, Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, local radio/TV commentator and Towson Communication Studies Professor Richard Vatz, and fiction writer and Towson English Professor Michael Downs. A total of 451 copies of Fahrenheit 451 will be given away at this event. Admission is free and open to the public. Pre-paid parking will be provided in the Glen Parking Garage; use the Cross Campus Blvd. entrance (maps and directions). For more information about this event, call (410) 704-2686.

See photo gallery for this event!

Mon., Oct. 15, 2007 - 7:30 p.m. - Towson University, Van Bokkelen Hall Auditorium
Film Screening of Fran├žois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451

Truffaut's 1966 film adaptation of Bradbury's novel starred Oskar Werner and Julie Christie and featured a score by noted film composer Bernard Herrmann. Department of Electronic Media and Film instructor Steve Libowitz will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion on the score as part of the 2007 EMF Fall Film Series, "Music, Musicians, and Musicals." A limited number of copies of Fahrenheit 451 will be given away at this event. For further information about the film series, call (410) 704-3755 or visit

Wed., Oct. 24, 2007 - 4:00 p.m. - UMBC, Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery
Keynote Session with Sam Weller, author of The Bradbury Chronicles (William Morrow, 2005).

As Bradbury's authorized biographer, Weller spent five years working very closely with the author. His talk will focus on the man behind the masterpiece, covering the genesis of Fahrenheit 451 and the cultural, historical and personal influences that contributed to its inspired creation in 1953. A limited number of copies of Fahrenheit 451 will be given away at this event. For further information, call the Kuhn Library Administrative Offices at (410)455-2356 or visit

Tues., Oct. 30, 2007 - 7:30 p.m. - Goucher College, Buchner Hall Alumnae/Alumni House
Panel discussion: An Evening with Fahrenheit 451, Hosted by Sanford Ungar

Our evening with Fahrenheit 451-the culminating event of The Big Read in Baltimore County-will begin with a staged reading of The Pedestrian, a one-act play by Ray Bradbury. This play is based on a 1949 short story of the same title, a story which a few years later would inform Bradbury's writing of Fahrenheit 451. Following the play, Goucher College President Sanford Ungar will moderate a discussion with a panel consisting of English professor Jeff Myers and librarian Jim Huff, from Goucher College, and Communications professor Richard Vatz and English professor Marlana Portolano, from Towson University. A limited number of copies of Fahrenheit 451 will be given away at this event. For further information, call (410) 337-6362 (or -6364) or visit

The Big Read: Fahrenheit 451 Book Discussion Groups

Our programming will also include over 20 book discussion groups at public library branches and senior centers throughout Baltimore County.

Baltimore County Public Library Fahrenheit 451 Discussion Groups

Hereford Library
Hereford Library Book Club
Wed., Oct. 3, 1 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

Randallstown Library
The Bookends
Wed., Oct. 10, 7 p.m.

Reisterstown Library
Reisterstown Readers
Thurs., Oct. 11, 7 p.m

Cockeysville Library
Coffee Conversations
Mon., Oct. 15, 11 a.m.


Parkville-Carney Library
Readers of the Roundtable
Tues., Oct. 16, 10 a.m.

Arbutus Library
Arbutus Book Club
Tues., Oct. 16, 7 p.m.

Woodlawn Library
Woodlawn Book Club
Thurs., Oct. 18, 7 p.m.

Towson Library
Towson Library Book Club
Thurs., Oct. 25, 7 p.m.

Baltimore County Department of Aging Senior Centers Hosting Fahrenheit 451 Book Discussion Groups

Jacksonville Senior Center
Mon., Oct. 1, 10 a.m.

Senior Box Office
Tues., Oct. 2, 10 a.m.

Overlea-Fullerton Senior Center
Thurs., Oct. 4, 10:30 a.m.

Cockeysville Senior Center
Mon., Oct. 15, 9:30 a.m.

Liberty Senior Center
Wed., Oct. 17, 10:30 a.m.


Seven Oaks Senior Center
Tues., Oct. 23, 12:30 p.m.

Catonsville Senior Center
Wed., Oct. 24, 10 a.m.

Essex Senior Center
Wed., Oct. 24, 1 p.m.

Rosedale Senior Center
Wed., Oct. 24, 1 p.m.

Pikesville Senior Center
Thurs., Oct. 25, 10 a.m.

Additional Book Discussion Groups

Edward A. Myerberg Senior Center
Mon., Oct. 8, 10 a.m.

Interested in starting your own Fahrenheit 451 book discussion group? Contact us to inquire about free Reader's Guides produced by The Big Read's sponsors. Reader's Guides are also available free online.

Fahrenheit 451 Blog

Where were you when you first discovered Fahrenheit 451? Are you an old friend, or is this a new journey?

In celebration of our community's participation in The Big Read, over 1000 copies of the book have been distributed throughout Baltimore County.

Find a copy, or re-discover your own, and participate in our BC Fahrenheit 451 Blog. Share a photo of yourself or a family member enjoying the book, talk about your relationship with the book, or just check out what others are saying at!

Partner Organizations

Towson University's partners in The Big Read: Baltimore County Reads Fahrenheit 451 include:

Baltimore County Department of Aging

Baltimore County Public Library

Baltimore Science Fiction Society

Daedalus Books and Music

The Friends of the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery at UMBC

Goucher College

Greetings & Readings

The Office for Library Information Services for Baltimore County Schools

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Towson University

The Big Read has come to Baltimore County! / Albert S. Cook Library
Last revised: October 18, 2007

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