From the 1960s
After an overnight car journey from west London down the A roads to the end of Cornwall we arrived at Penlee Manor Drive. Needing to observe the niceties of arrival catch up on life since last summer took a few hours, delaying the much anticipated plan for the perfect holiday. Clutching her half a crown saved from pocket money, Janet finally set out on her own. Up the granite edged street, across the park, barely stopping to admire the walls of beautiful azaeleas in the tropical park, Janet walked purposefully on her solo mission. Her destination loomed into view. She pushed the heavy door of the Penzance library and entered the cool corridor to the heart of her desire. A HOLIDAY READER TICKET was soon obtained and the first trio of books, three Chalet School stories, by Elinor M. Brent Dyer, were tucked carefully under the nine year old's arm. The treasure gained, Janet returned to the family with her holiday happiness secured. Each day the Wilsons chose a different beach to visit and each day Janet selected another three books from the children's library, reading her way through the Billy Bunter and Jennings series, enjoying the sensation of being at boarding school without ever having entered one. Fifty years later this extravaganza of permitted indulgence in unrestricted reading is still a fondest memory of how to holiday and remains a goal for a future trip to anywhere with sunshine, a beach and a reading soundtrack of waves lapping gently on the shore.
On the 8th of November, approximately 400 people came to Weston Park Museum in Sheffield to join us for the Memories of Reading event. It was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, and ran as one of a number of events organised by social science researchers at the University of Sheffield. For the whole day, visitors of any age could play games, crack codes, and share their stories. Particularly popular was the loom band table, where children used letter beads to make word and name loom bands, and the telegraph ticker, where everybody could try their hand at Morse code. The "Guess the Decade" game had literacy sources from the past 100 years which needed sorting according to decades - a football programme, a poster for the Titanic, a WW2 rations book, an etiquette guide, and a copy of Harry Potter were just a few of the resources that had people talking about reading through the decades. Below are just some of the pictures from the day - thank you to all parents who allowed us to share them with you! The day also gathered another 20+ "Memories of reading" for the research project - if you would like to add yours to the database, you can do so here.