Monday 14 September 2015

UKYA Shot Library Love

UKYA Shot is fast approaching, and one of the reasons I'm super excited for it is becase of it's focus on Libraries! The one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade ‘festival’ is taking place in the centre of Uxbridge on Wednesday 28 October 2015 in partnership with Hillingdon Borough Libraries and Waterstone’s Uxbridge, where 71 authors will be involved in a programme of workshop, panel and ‘in conversation’ events. It is also to be a flagship event, launching a year-long programme of free author visits to libraries across Hillingdon!! It's going to be a FANTASTIC event, and it go me reminising (and when I do that I like to

I've previously shared some of my favourite fictional libraries which you can check out HERE and today I wanted to go back to that but focus on specific libraries that have been a part of my reading life. I probably wouldn't be in the job I am today, nor writing this post, nor have a room full to the brim of books...and that's sort of a sad thing (and I would say that because I love reading)and something I really think should change. And I don't mean forced reading like we were all 'made' to do in school, but encouraged reading where people can find what works best for them and utalise that format to grow their reading.... I'm getting a little off tangent now, so back to the Libraries I go...

The first stop on my library tour is my local library in West Hampstead.  Where I used to sit outside and wait for it to open. You can really see but to the left of the building at street level there;s a window and that's where the children's section had to get a lift down, which always built up this feeling of anticipation. You had a max of ten books that would could take out so I used to borrow in bulk, and I don't think I even read them all a lot. I vividly remember borrowing a massive A3 (well it was big for me back them) How To Cook book, mainly for the pictures I think because I never made anything...and I repeatedly borrowed The BBC adaptation of The 4 Chronicles of Narnia videos on VHS (Might have to go watch them again...) It was a really small library, but it was perfect because it felt like a little reading cave. It also meant I was independently going and exploring and building up my base of reading because I could decide what I wanted to read..and apparently how long for, because I never brought anything back on time...

From here we go to my School Library, which was probably the biggest literary influence on me over the seven years I was there, and in many ways it started with a lie! I found a sort of solitude in my first year at secondary school in the library and one of the first things I remember was a school trip to meet author Tim Bowler, and I told the Librarians 'Yeah sure I've read the book' which I had..and then did and Starseeker was beautiful! So sorry for that Miss! This started a ball rolling that took on G force 1 proportions...Over the next seven years...I became I librarian at the school, met countless authors including David Almond, Patrick Ness (who we'd done a presentation in from of!) and many more. I went on trips, went to book lunches, book countless books from the scholastic fairs shadowed the Carnegie awards, and even got to go to one of the awards where I met Kevin Brooks who already knew my name an was warned to beware of falling pianos by Meg Rossoff... But all of this wouldn't have been possible without two of my favourite people in the world Mrs Wade and Mrs Nicholson. The School Librarians. They, and this is the most important thing I feel, encouraged. They want you to read and want to help you find books that you'll enjoy, and they want to encourage you in your reading. It was though them what my general reading turned into a passion. They introduced me to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time something I can never repay because that book has stuck with me and it all started there. I got to read books I had never heard of, books I never wanted to (Twilight...sorry not sorry) and now still don't want too. But it was this freedom to explore and then to help pass this on through the lower years ad encourage their reading as I got older. 

Six form was interesting because we had an obligatory book club, for many a time wikipedia and Amazon reviews provided much useful information. I've still never finished Catch 22. Maybe one day. I only now mention this 6th form book club, because it drew on an issue I'm conflicted over. Sensitized reading .   We had been giving a reading list, and I blasted through a couple of books over the summer, and then during one book club suggested that we read a book off the list. Filth by Irvine Welsh. I sold the book well because we all voted it in to read the next month. I was then told after by a teacher that we had to veto the decision because of bestiality. I respect that we were 17/18... BUT IT WAS ON THE LIST. I'd already read it! Reading at that level was supposed to be able broadening our reading, our minds, about how we had informed discussions and then being told no. One thing I'd always respected about the librarians of above was that they never said you cant read something, but that we want t make sure you're understanding what you're reading and if necessary we need permission from your parents to say yes its ok. and that was good, because you're not saying no so a child will go find other ways to read it, your bringing awareness to the reading, and I think giving that child a confidence that their reading is mature! 

Growing up...these things formed me much more than I could probably express in words (the above is the exception :p). Library's are such an important feature in life, their experiences helped me define my reading, open up new worlds and help me become the person I am today and I hope more than anything that more libraries work with events like this to open themselves up to more readers...


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