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Language Arts & Disciplines Readers

One Child Reading

My Auto-Bibliography

by (author) Margaret Mackey

foreword by Roberta Seelinger Trites

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2016
Readers, Non-Formal Education, Literacy, Children's Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2016
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2016
    List Price

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"The miracle of the preserved word, in whatever medium—print, audio text, video recording, digital exchange—means that it may transfer into new times and new places." —From the Introduction

Margaret Mackey draws together memory, textual criticism, social analysis, and reading theory in an extraordinary act of self-study. In One Child Reading, she makes a singular contribution to our understanding of reading and literacy development. Seeking a deeper sense of what happens when we read, Mackey revisited the texts she read, viewed, listened to, and wrote as she became literate in the 1950s and 1960s in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This tremendous sweep of reading included school texts, knitting patterns, musical scores, and games, as well as hundreds of books. The result is not a memoir, but rather a deftly theorized exploration of how a reader is constructed. One Child Reading is an essential book for librarians, classroom teachers, those involved in literacy development in both scholarly and practical ways, and all serious readers.

About the authors

Margaret Mackey is Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alberta. She has published a wide variety of articles and chapters on the subject of young people’s reading and their multimedia and digital literacies. Mackey’s work is highly interdisciplinary; her numerous international presentations include talks on young people’s literature, multimedia and adaptations, education and literacy, computer gaming, and more. Her interest in these topics was initiated during her youth in Newfoundland; although she grew up in the 1950s, her childhood experiences included a range of media that fed into her inveterate book-reading. She is now pursing questions about how children ‘s developing skills in processing a variety of media are affected by their geographic location and their understanding of landscapes, both real and fictional.

Margaret Mackey's profile page

Roberta Seelinger Trites' profile page


  • Winner, Alberta Book Publishing Awards, Scholarly and Academic
  • Winner, Ewart-Daveluy Indexing Award, Indexing Society of Canada

Editorial Reviews

"I know that One Child Reading is meant to be more than just a walk down memory lane, and it is much more than that, most certainly. And yet, while I know that scholarship and literacy will be richer for the extensive and careful research represented here, I still want to thank Ms. Mackey for taking me on that walk. It was a pure pleasure. I will recommend this book highly, and not just for library collections, but for any child of the fifties who loves books and reading." Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER

Amazon Review

"Inquiring into children's reading experiences is notoriously difficult.... [The] most promising work in the field so far has imported methods and analytical categories from the social and cognitive sciences into the hermeneutic approaches of the humanities. Mackey's crowning achievement also manages to do just this and superbly so.... One Child Reading is beautifully written: its lucid, accessible style invites readers into the world of Mackey's emergent childhood literacy, amply offering the sensual, graphic details that the author sees as key to any reading experience.... This book is an ode to reading: please read it."

International Research in Children's Literature

"One Child Reading, in which a professor becomes a geographer of her own literacy, is hyper-local, yet there's something about the way Margaret Mackey describes the forces that affected her early reading as a white, middle-class girl in 1950s and 60s St. John's that will speak to readers across identity lines.... [T]his book marks an expert in her field bringing a career's worth of knowledge to material she knows best. A thorough and lucid examination of the self, aided by prolific illustrations and great page design.

The Globe and Mail

"One Child Reading [is] the remarkable Margaret Mackey’s exhaustive but far from exhausting study of the development of literacy." [Full blog post at]

Archive Child blog

"...Margaret Mackey's uniquely detailed, insightful and wide-ranging study of the development of her own literacy in childhood is a major contribution to knowledge, all the better for the fact that it subsumes a lifelong of reading, thinking and reflecting. Her Autobibliography helps us to understand the full meaning of 'learning to read', and the lasting impact that early experiences of stories, non-fiction texts and even ephemeral writings can have on individual young people - both for good and for ill."

Use of English

"The habit of reading is most frequently acquired in childhood: it is as children that we first acquire our love of losing ourselves in other worlds and other lives, and our imaginative capacity to respond emotionally to the abstract symbols that make up a text-based narrative. .. [In Margaret Mackey's] new volume, she turns inward to recall her own formative experiences as a child reader growing up in Newfoundland during the 1950s and '60s."

Quill & Quire

Other titles by Margaret Mackey