As regular Recorder readers know, every Summer I enjoy planning which books I’ll read during August.

Over the last year I’ve read loads of books, as a judge for the CWA’s Golden Dagger Awards, but I still have a few more itching to be opened.  My long read is “The Catholic School” by Edoardo Albinati; my history book, Sara Cockerill’s “Eleanor of Aquitaine” and I can’t wait to start Margaret Atwood’s sequel to the Handmaids Tale, “The Testament.”

Reading gives us all so much:  not just enjoyment, but knowledge of our world and the uplifting diversity of its people.

Reading is especially important for children, yet the virus has robbed our children of many months of learning.

Wonderful groups, like the Magpie Project and Newham Bookshop, are doing everything they can to ensure children and adults have access to books, and the pleasures of reading, throughout lockdown.  Our schools, too, are doing excellent work, supporting children who have to stay home.

Despite these efforts, not all our children have reliable access to computers or the internet at home, making their access to education nigh impossible.  The Government simply isn’t doing enough to guarantee access to learning for all children.

Children without access to learning materials are falling further behind.  Massive efforts are needed to help them catch up.  We must seize opportunities, while infections remain relatively low.

Thankfully, our libraries are beginning to reopen.  I know from personal experience that libraries can play a huge part in giving families access to books and technology they can’t afford at home.

We must also prepare for a second wave of infections, if that does happen.  Government could be forgiven for not foreseeing all eventualities for all our communities, when lockdown of unknown length was first announced.  Now there is no excuse for failing to ensure all families have the resources on which effective home learning depends.

If the Government don’t take those essential steps soon, the harm this virus inflicts on our children’s educations, and their chances of lifelong enjoyment of reading and learning, could become a permanent scar on their futures.

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