Dear readers, my name is Minakshi Massop, I am 41 years old, and I am an English undergraduate student studying at Newman University. I grew up in West Bromwich, just outside of Birmingham city. My Birmingham story is about my childhood memories of how I connected with literature as a child.
My reading journey began as a child with one of the first books I was ever bought, The Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker. I spent so much time in Woolworths, picking it up and looking at it that eventually, my mum bought it for me. I remember spending hours gazing at the pictures and picking out my favourites. My first reading experiences were not reading but being drawn into a book for the imagery. Inspired, I spent hours in my grandparent’s garden, searching for fairies, becoming lost in a magical wonderland beneath the canopy of grapevines, lush grass, and garden rockery, endlessly seeking the flower fairies out.
My interaction with the literary world was limited. I didn’t have shelves full of books, and we didn’t have money to buy them, so I treasured them when they came my way, like the collection of Beatrix Potter books my dad bought me, which still holds such sentiment for me today. I read these books as a child and longed for a pet of my own. I fell in love with the naughty antics of Peter Rabbit and the rusty autumnal colours of Squirrel Nutkins. I remember trips to the local park seeking out Owl Island, climbing trees, searching for conkers on the forest floor, hoping to see Squirrel Nutkins scurrying by.
I first discovered Enid Blyton when my aunt took me to Birmingham Central Library. I would love to look for new reading adventures and the places the books could take me. I have fond memories of visiting the library as a child. My aunt would spend hours searching for her perfect collection of crime novels, and I would end up sitting on the windowsill, watching the world pass me by whilst I waited patiently for her. Occasionally we would visit the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery after our trip to the library and finish the day off by having dinner at the Pavilions food court. I always had pancakes with lemon and maple syrup for my pudding; it was my favourite pudding from their menu.
My reading journey may have started with searching for fairies and reading about mischievous rabbits in little blue coats. Still, my love for literature found wings of its own and, through the years, has taken me on many journeys and given me many memories. Reading is something that will stay with me throughout my life.
And this is my Birmingham story.