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Reading a powerful ‘Force’ at local Phoenix library

PHOENIX — “The Force” is strong at one Phoenix library.

On Saturday, the Rebel Alliance and Imperial Forces came from all across the galaxy to set aside their differences for one, united purpose: A “Star Wars Reads Day” at Burton Barr Central Library.

Lucasfilm began the event last year to get kids excited about reading. More than 30 authors and 1,500 costumed volunteers took part in 1,200 events all over North America.

Saturday marks the first time, however, that the Phoenix Public Library system has participated in the event.

But just like the Battle of Endor or the destruction of the Death Star, the library enlisted some help to pull off the big celebration.

“Bookman’s (Entertainment Exchange) contributed raffle prizes and the photo booth, and Samurai Comics donated some prizes, as well,” said Kelly Pearson, Literacy Outreach Librarian. “Friends of Phoenix Public Library paid for the free books and (Arizona Republic’s) Seasons of Sharing paid for all the supplies we used today.”

‘Star Wars’ fan and duelist Michael Whyman, 35, even brought his golf bag full of actual lightsabers for the kids to play with.

More than 330 kids and adults participated in the library’s event, which included an obstacle course, drawing and coloring stations, a balloon artist and storytime.

“It was absolutely a success. I think everyone had fun,” Pearson said. “We got to share some literacy tips with the parents, and hopefully they can go home and do activities like this with their kids.

“And having Darth Vader here never hurts, too.”