Thousands of young people gathered at a football stadium in Istanbul on Sunday to break the record for “most people reading aloud,” but complications in ticketing blurred the final count.
It might be true to say Turks love football more than they love reading, but organizers of the record-breaking attempt wanted to prove the opposite by bringing tens of thousands of people into the Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul’s central Mecidiyeköy district for reading.
Even though the Guiness World Records judge declared the official attendance count to be about a thousand short of the record 15,440, organizers claimed there were at least 20,000 people reading aloud and maintained that the event was still successful in raising awareness for reading.
Selim Çavuş, head of the “Düşün Taşın” (Think Hard) Association, said people who entered the stadium at the last minute were not given tickets, and thus not included in the count, because the deadline for the attempt was approaching.
Turkey still holds the record for an attempt made in the southern province of Mersin on April 16, which has been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest gathering of people reading aloud.
Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu called on youngsters to read in their spare time during a speech she delivered before the attempt, which was also supported by First Lady Hayrunnisa Gül. Most high school and secondary school students came to the stadium voluntarily, but some schools required students to attend.
Dilhan Eğribaş, a high school student, said she was sorry they didn’t break the record, but that the record was not the only mission of the event. “We read the book, and we think we raised awareness about reading in Turkey,” she said.
A majority of students came to be part of the record attempt, but some had other reasons. Tuba Kılınçkaya, 16, said she attended the activity to see and enter the Ali Sami Yen Stadium, as she loved football more than reading. On the other hand, Merve Aydın, 11, said her main reason for attending was to participate in the event’s effort to collect books from attendees. The Think Hard Association plans to send the donated books to schools in need in 20 cities.