An Evening Amongst Friends

Since 2012, The Friends of the Library have held special “Friends Only” lectures, offering their members a privileged opportunity for discussion with distinguished speakers. This past October Prof. Reid-Walsh (Associate Professor, Education and Women’s Studies, Pennsylvania State University, Adjunct Professor, Dept. Integrated Studies, Faculty of Education, McGill University, Visiting Scholar, McGill Centre for Research and Teaching on Women, McGill University) shared her enthusiasm for movable books, in a lecture entitled Learning as Playing: Movable Books for Children.  Movable books predate the invention of printing and were used by early thinkers in science and philosophy and later became connected with children from the inception of the field of children’s publishing. Due to their unusual composition and design movable books are hybrid objects possessing qualities of a book, a picture or print, and a toy or game. This last aspect makes them an excellent example of an interactive text, enabling learning as playing, a concept espoused by Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke and rearticulated today by new media theorists.


She tied these interests together wonderfully for her audience on Oct. 24, when she gave an illustrated talk on children’s pop-up and other movable or interactive books. She referred to their history, the wide variety of types of books, their usages and influence- it was a chatty, informed overview, free of academic jargon, fuelled by her enthusiasm for these beautiful old books were Friends were able to look at and play with them: a wonderful opportunity to learn more about a familiar, yet remote area.

Many of the volumes that were displayed and mentioned at her lecture were from the impressive selection in Rare Books, ranging from early Renaissance to more contemporary items. In attendance, Sheila Bourke, one of the important donors to this Collection and an Honourary Friend of the Library, DSC_1735with her daughter, Jane Tooke, another collector of children’s books.

Professor Jacqueline Reid-Walsh research interests include historical children’s literature and culture, children’s and youth popular culture, comparative media literacy and girlhood studies. A literary historian working with theoretical lenses drawn from cultural studies, children’s studies, book history and feminist studies, she has written a number of articles, book chapters and co-edited and co-authored several books. These include Girl Culture: An Encyclopedia (2008). She is a founding editor of an award winning journal called Girlhood Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal


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