(Dr) Gavin Swanson was the most studious child in The Stair so I suspect he may have been. Certainly, as previously mentioned Norman Stewart had a lovely collection of Rupert Annuals and being a solitary child perhaps felt the need to fall back on books. Many of the children were keen readers of comics. Comics are a great basis for developing the sensibility and habit of reading so no doubt some of the twenty five children will have become ardent readers.
We had a decent small adult library of books at 6/2 because my mother, Mrs Anne Hoffmann read every day of life. I picked up the same habit from around the age of sixteen. Before then, like many of the more active kids I preferred to be out and about.
Developing a reading habit or sensibility is similar to any other pursuit or mode of life-the first stage is some thing or event that creates the initial spark to fire an interest or passion-thereafter you need access, resources and support to participate and develop which fosters and encourages-you enjoy it, become motivated and before you know it, it's becomes an integral part of your lifestyle-thereafter the whole process is ongoing and cyclical. Reading is such a wonderful activity and transports you to another world and helps you to empathise and understand others too.
|Reader at Morningside being transported to another world-this time to|
Treasure Island-RLS would have been pleased!
(Peter Hoffmann 13/10/2012)
There's the primary influences-home, school, peers and friends as well as having the access, time and space to read too. Today Oxgangs has an excellent library; back in the 1960s and as mentioned by Ruth Blades, we mainly got our books from the Edinburgh Corporation mobile library.
|Mobile Library, 1963 (Robin Hill)|
notice the sign for Children's Books at the back of the van where we used to browse
Photograph by John Campbell Harper
|'Cosy' (Peter Hoffmann, 2006)|
There were weather influences too-after morning papers or milk deliveries I enjoyed sitting on the inside window ledge of my bedroom on miserable Saturday mornings reading my comics, drinking some Koolapop cola and eating some Paris Buns from the bakers.
There are three books from my childhood at The Stair which I recall with great affection. The first of these is Robin Hood and His Merrie Men. It was the Regent Classics version, although Dean & Son produced the same story format, but without the nice black and white illustrations inside. It's a lovely read, with thirty seven self contained stories, beautifully written and which would inspire any child to run away to enjoy life in the greenwood! It seems a shame the author isn't acknowledged. Atticus and d'Artagnan loved it too-even reading it with them a decade or so ago I appreciated it. If you've got children or grandchildren go on to eBay and buy a copy for them-or even yourself-you won't regret it!