23 Feb My Reading Journey by Carole Estall
Secondary school librarian Carole Estall, aka The Reading Jackdaw, tells us how she began to read for pleasure. Her story may not be what you expect.
People are often surprised at my fractured relationship with reading, I was certainly no Matilda. My parents read, but it wasn’t what you would call a reading household, in truth I was reluctant to read until introduced to Enid Blyton, and then Malcolm Saville and Brent Dyer, were collected monthly from Tamworth Library. They all seemed a more dangerous version of my own life! Secondary school was a reading abyss, my comprehensive was attached to the local library yet I have little memory of visiting it, or of a librarian, teacher or friends talking about books. Consequently, I don’t associate reading for pleasure with my teens, and this continued through university, when I read what was on the shelves at home; Fleming, Shute, Heyer, but not much else. After starting 17 years teaching in state primary schools, I began to read more regularly, however, I am ashamed to say, reading for pleasure wasn’t a massive priority in the classroom. It’s a tough job juggling 10 subjects and 35 10-year-olds, but it’s something I would definitely change if I could go back.
At 40, I did a Library MA, securing a job at an independent secondary school, not ideal, I was interested in academic libraries and the state sector, but jobs were scarce and pockets empty. It was a decision that changed everything. I saw what books could do, even pupils who didn’t see themselves as readers often enjoyed talking, even to emphasise they hated reading, and this can be a starting point. My role is to motivate, enthuse, encourage, provide a safe, non-judgemental, unpressurised space for readers to emerge and grow, and to provide books that everyone can see themselves in. It is a strange job, no one else in school does it, and no one fully comprehends what a school librarian does, it’s just stamping books and reading isn’t it?
Reading for pleasure has spilled into my personal life, I started making booklists, reading suggestions for friends, their children, I created fiction menus, running zoom story times, and this year I started a website providing free booklists, reviews, and recommendations. So, although I am late to the reading for pleasure scene, I really want to party!
Thank you so much to Carole for wriing this blog. Find out more about all her resources at https://www.readingjackdaw.co.uk/