April 29, 2021

‘Are We Reading In The Dark?’

Anthony Milnes

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With questions about standards of literacy ever present in the news I have often wondered whether children still read under the bedcovers after “lights out”. Have those early enthusiasms for self-directed, torchlit reading been replaced by the backlit scrolling of smartphones in bed? This essay, whilst shining a light on my personal journey to an enduring love of books, is also a homage to libraries as beacons of light in a community. To read that library attendance has declined by more than 30% in the last decade and that over 500 libraries closed in that same period ought to be of concern to all those in education who strive to “close the attainment gap”. This is especially pertinent when a 2015 report shows that libraries were visited more regularly by black and ethnic adults (49.3%) compared with white ethnic adults (31.8%). I humbly ask, please don’t let my homage become a eulogy.