Saturday, May 09, 2015

Michelle from Tales of Yesterday (Love Libraries)

Love Libraries is a new feature on this blog that aims to celebrate the wonder and importance of libraries and librarians.

I'm so happy that today I have a very special guest, Michelle Toy from Tales of Yesterday.  Chelley is one of my favourite bloggers and I think it's fantastic how much of an impact she has had on the UKYA blogging community in such a short period of time. She's friendly, passionate and enthusiastic about books and has some amazing ideas and a new, fresh perspective that she brings to her blog. And I'm so happy that she's here today to share with us her experiences growing up of libraries and what they mean to her.

**Presses Play**

My love for libraries started when I was very young.  

**drumroll for young Michelle**

My Mom used to take me to a playgroup that was based inside Erdington Library in Birmingham.

I always think certain memories from your childhood definitely stay with you and I always remember these visits so fondly.  We used to walk from our house to the old library building with it’s red brick walls and triangle peaks….the building always used to feel so huge!

My Mom always encouraged me to take part in the activities that were being put on for the children and then afterwards we would always return our books from the week before and then get out new ones!  It was always a good feeling to walk home with new adventures to explore with my Mom carrying alllll the books!  Her arms must have ached!  When we were home it was time to share the books, laugh and have many adventures.

**Embarrassing moment alert!**

My Mom often tells me about the time I became quite the celebrity during one of these sessions during a feet and hand painting session!  Oh how I used to love the mess of paint!  The local newspaper were there to photograph a girl that had won a competition but upon taking the picture I accidently barged in the way and my photo ended up being taken instead!  My picture appeared in the local newspaper and I’m sure somewhere my mom still has the clipping!  If I ever find it I will share it on twitter and you can all laugh!

*Presses fast forward to teenage Michelle*

**introduces teenage Michelle…excuse the PJ’s!**

My teenage years were full of love for Nirvana, grunge and guitar playing (I used to be in a band), but my love for libraries and books continued!

Every weekend or in the school holidays I used to take the 1.5 mile walk to my local library (following moving house), Perry Common Library.  I loved this place!

The feeling of walking up the steps and through the what I now would call the Harry Potter style doors always caused a flutter inside me.  Libraries always have that bookish smell…different to that of book shops…do you know what I mean?  It’s a kind of old building-booky smell – I know that may sound so strange!

I used to always get recommendations from my English teacher, Mrs Lewis, at school who used to write me lists of books to hunt down in the library and that she felt I would enjoy.  I have her to thank for my love of such books as Dear Nobody by Berlie Doherty and Watership Down by Richard Adams (both are two of my favourite books now I am older).

Turning right as I entered the building took me to the beloved children’s section!  Rows and rows of books upon books!  Heaven!  Armed with my list from my teacher I was like a kid in a sweet shop!  I
was determined to find all the books on the list as well as a few extras!  Nothing changes! :)

As well as being a kid in a sweet shop in the children’s section I used to have a love of adult murder mysteries!  Oh yes indeedy!  Venturing out of the children’s section and down to the far right of the adult section where these books were kept, with my stomach a flutter I used to work my way through picking up a Ruth Rendell Inspector Wexford mystery I hadn't read or a Colin Dexter Inspector Morse book that looked good and if I ever I saw an Agatha Christie book I hadn't read before that went straight on the pile!

Walking up to the counter with my chosen pile of books in my arms, my head peaking over the top with excited eyes, the librarian used to stamp all of the books with the return dates.  Oh how I loved that sound.  It was the stamp of approval as if to say you have many exciting adventures coming your way.  Then it was time to carry the books all the way home…..often with aching arms by the time I got through the front door when sympathy for my Mom from when I was younger was guaranteed….but for the love of books from the library it was worth it!

It was then time to open the pages and discover the worlds they had in store.  I would often come downstairs in tears following finishing a book (Dear Nobody) explaining to my Mom that I had been moved by a book and with my Mom comforting me I would swiftly move onto the next one.  I would always feel proud when my teacher Mrs Lewis would give me a new list of books to find after loving all the ones she recommended the first time around.  I always remember saying to her that Watership Down would stay close to my heart forever.  Which it has.  I wish I could find her to tell her and I’m sure she would smile!

*Presses fast forward to a few more…okay the button is stuck that’s why it’s taking so long…years later**

**Introduces 21 year old Michelle….oh okay *ahem* older Michelle**

I am now an adult!  Or so they say ;-)

I am still in love with my library although in a different town and I take my son, Corey there when I can, who seems to have inherited a love for books just like me.

**produces picture of Corey reading in a dog basket**

Our trips to the library are often eventful….and yes we still pile up the books like a huge tower but now it’s my time to carry them home until my arms ache, but like when I was younger it is worth it for the fun times we share with them, the laughs and the cry’s and most of all the adventures.

I often wonder what would happen if my Mom didn't take me to the library when I was younger.  Or what if my English teacher hadn't encouraged me with lists of wonderful books to find?  Would I still have the love for books that I have today?  Would I be a different person to what I am today? For this I thank my Mom…..without her encouraging visits to the library and letting me pick books and read whatever I wanted to read I may never have discovered their worlds something that have made me part of who I am today.  But most of all what would I have done or even my son do without libraries and being able to share books?!  They have been such an important part of my life, my son’s life and hopefully other peoples lives for many years to come!

Michelle x

Michelle Toy


  1. Thank you so much for having me Michelle and for such kind a lovely words at the beginning..... You are so lovely! Happy 2500th post day! Xxx

  2. Oh - such a wonderful post! So much love for books and family. So many adorable photos too (I can really see where Corey gets his looks!) The descriptions made me hear the librarian's stamp again - and above all - made me want to read!

  3. Very cute & moving post about the love for books and family, I love it! Thank you for having shared your story :)

  4. Thank you very much for this, Michelle! I loved seeing your wonderful library experiences growing up. And some fab photos! x


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