Thank you to everybody who is sharing their memories of reading - so many wonderful memories are coming in that it is difficult to pick just one "Memory of the Month". So, in order to share more of them, I am putting together some vignettes or short quotes with images, so people can engage with the memories at a more visual level, and also to enable sharing across social media. This little extract illustrates to me how close we can be to books, and how we want to live with and inside them. Please do spread the word where and when you can.
It's #NationalLibrariesDay, so let's celebrate with a special Library Story!
From the 1970s
My Mother was a librarian and as a single parent she often had to take me to work during school holidays. My love of books started here I think.
Not only did I become and avid reader but I learned how to look after the books making minor repairs and shelving. My favorite task was wiping over book covers with surgical spirit , you can imagine the grime that came with the many readers hands.
When I was older my first Saturday job was working in the library, I had a head start on the other 14 year olds as my training had started early. I found other peoples reading habits fascinating. Pensioners loved Mills and Boon and Westerns and the children discovered Asterix and brought their friends to join the library to share the fun. During quiet periods I indulged my new found love for Stephen King.
From the 1980s:
Tracey, age 33 and from Sheffield
My very first memory of reading was from when I was very small. I had just joined an infant school and, as part of our reading work, we were all taken out separately for a 1 to 1 session. I didn't like them much, they were boring. However, on one particular day, a teaching assistant came for me and we sat in the corridor outside the classroom. She directed me to a box of books and asked me to pick one, which I did. I then sat next to her and she turned the page.
"There's a blue sky and a squirrel...and the squirrel looks upset..." I delivered with the same matter-of-fact tone I always had in these sessions, 'reading' the story from the colourful pictures.
"No love," she stopped me, "this book has words...you have to read them."
Wow! I was in awe. Books with words were so much more interesting to a five year old than books with just pictures. I suppose this was where my interest with the written word began.
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.