On Monday I wrote about a book related to Lowell. Today I am going to do the same and by the same author. Lowell Firefighting is a book I read for the UMass Lowell Library 2015 Reading and Discussion series. This is a series I have been able to run every year (except the first year I was at UML) as a way to engage the public in topics of national or local interest. This year we are viewing a documentary series about Latino Americans. I am very excited.
ANY-HOO… The theme of the series in which we read this book was Lowell History. It was the second year we had done this theme and the second year we have used the Images of American series of books. You know these books. You see them all over the place. They are amazing ways to collect town, city, and even thematic pictures and use them to tell a story. These two series were our most popular of the 4 we had run at that point. At the end of the series I had to consider why this was so.
On one hand, the topic was local history and it brought out life-long residents who wanted to talk about their memories of Lowell. This didn’t explain it all. We had done a Jack Kerouac series in our second year. That was, sadly, our least popular. I think the difference between the Arcadia books and a Kerouac series had a lot to do with the pictures. People wanted to talk about the images they saw. This is what I loved about these books: the conversations that began as we looked at the pictures. In some cases we tried to remember the place in the picture or the circumstances that led to the picture (especially in this book’s case). Some residents talked about memories going to locations and what is in its place now. It prompted discussions about the history of Lowell and the future we imagine.
Adults often discount picture books. We forget that many of us are visual learners and communicators. We have been trained to read words and to be auditory people, but we aren’t. We do better as we see pictures. They trigger memories and allow us to see things. For me, it is often easier for me to read a book after I see a movie because I can visualize the story better. I understood Pride and Prejudice better after I saw a movie version because I could see the characters and places.
There needs to be more picture books for adults. Further, you should read the picture books that do exist. Get an Images of America book for where you grew up or where you live now. Most towns have plenty of them. Don’t just put it down. Read it! Look at the pictures; see if you can place them or remember them. Look through your pictures and see if you have some that can be used to create your own picture book. Even if you just make your own, share pictures of places with others!
Want to find the Arcadia book for your town? Look on their webpage.
With that, have a happy new year and I will see you in 2016!