Sunday, 3 June 2012

A grim tale

The book industry is, if not in a crisis, certainly in a state of rapid change and turmoil. A report "The Gift of Reading in 2011", conducted and publicised by The National Literacy Trust this week, contains a main finding that is dramatic, to say the least:

In 2005, one in ten of the children and young people surveyed (aged 7-16) said that they did not have any books of their own at home.

In 2011, the figure was one in three.

And at the rate that public libraries are closing, it's unlikely that this is due to more borrowing of books from libraries. It's also not clear from the data whether this would include ebooks.

Whichever way, you can't hide from the fact that this is an alarming statistic. 

But although I am a firm believer in books and reading, and that children are missing something indescribably valuable if they don't have access to books, from a long-term perspective, maybe this situation is going back to the way things were decades ago.

The point is, even if children don't have physical books, they will always have stories - it's a fundamental part of human nature. And how much does it matter if a twelve-year-old learns the story of the Trojan War via watching Brad Pitt rather than reading Homer's Iliad? 

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