Costumed Characters Help Spain Promote Reading


By Carmen Comment

The Times reports on a most unusual campaign dreamt-up by the Spanish Federation of Publishers (FGEE) and backed by the Government: Little Red Riding Hood, Mary Poppins, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza are just some of the characters accosting tourists on the coasts, part of a novel campaign to promote reading. Don Quixote and his motley band of literary characters have moved from the north down the coast to Valencia, where they have braved temperatures of up to 40C (105F) and armies of British and German tourists. After acting out scenes from their respective stories, the ten actors fan out across the beach “in search of readers to reward for their bravery”, Don Quixote explains.

Anyone spotted reading is given a Frisbee, a pack of playing cards, a bookmark or beach pillow “whether they are reading a book, magazine, newspaper, comic book or the instructions on the suncream bottle”, he says. So why all the fuss? Because a study by FGEE found that 40 per cent of Spaniards never read anything, and even though the percent that do read something is rising, it’s not enough. So confidential to the folks at NEA: think a partnership with Disney and/or Universal Studios might help, especially if beaches are involved?