Skip to main content
  • Inclusion and Social Awareness

Don’t judge a book by its cover

The “Human Library” challenged people to be books for a day, sharing their stories to those who were curious to hear them.

Estimated reading time: 1 minute and 50 seconds

© João Simões, Helder Berenguer

The oldest way of passing stories from generation to generation is through “spreading the word”. Every day we pass on knowledge, whether it’s the mother teaching that family recipe, or the grandfather with his proverbs, fables, and childhood stories from another time. 

The wisdom of this generation comes from many years of life experience, adventures, misadventures, and some challenges, such as the most recent pandemic, which slowed down the exchange of knowledge and left this population more isolated from the world. Therefore, we decided to dedicate this new edition of the “Human Library” project to the masters of popular wisdom, taking advantage of the environment provided by the Aveiro Book Fair.

Rosa Gadanho, Maria de Jesus, João Oliveira and Maria Ribau shared with us their life stories, accepting the challenge of doing it again for the community. The “readers” who wanted to leaf through the life pages of the available “books” emerged at the end of the experience with a smile on their faces. “When an elderly person dies, a library dies with him”, one of the participants told us. Because in fact a “book” is not enough for such a wealth of life and memories. From the good Teacher Rosa’s rebelliousness, to Mr. João’s courage, to “Titivó’s” happiness and without ever forgetting Mrs. Lucinda’s humor. It was indeed a Sunday afternoon well spent, near Praça da República, in which both participants and volunteers had the privilege, not only of absorbing all the teachings that the “books” had to offer, but also of providing them with a different afternoon and an environment of conviviality and sharing, of which we were deprived after so long in pandemic.

“Human Library” is part of the “Refresh your Mind” project. It was made in association with FNAC Aveiro and with the participation of Centro Comunitário da Gafanha do Carmo. It also had the the support of Câmara Municipal de Aveiro, European Solidarity Corps and Instituto Português do Desporto e Juventude I.P..

Daniela Machado