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My 7 year old reads with a flashlight every night. She sleeps in the top bunk and the room is mostly dark for her little sister to go to sleep. We don't (at least not too often) tell her to turn off her flashlight and go to sleep, but she does use one every night.

I don't remember ever doing so as a child, but I don't think anyone ever forced me to stop reading either. It seems like a fun thing to do though and I'm glad my daughter has the opportunity. I'm not sure why, but I am.



I never read under the covers with a flashlight, either, because my parents were extremely stingy with batteries (probably in part because they did not want me up until 2 a.m. reading every night.)

My kids have done this, though. The result is that I can never EVER find flashlights when I need them because my children make off with them and then lose them under their beds.

(In the summer months they can just read by daylight. It doesn't get dark until almost 10 p.m. in MN in June and July.)

Portia Pennington

I think you may be onto something! Actually...I have read under the covers with a flashlight far more as an adult--prior to the invention (or at least, my purchase) of the booklight, and even AFTER the booklight (because I never can seem to find it!). And you are so right--it is absolutely the most uncomfortable way to read, especially when you have to wear glasses! Blow the cover off this in true 60 Minutes style!


I've never read under the covers with a flashlight. It does sound uncomfortable.


Hehe, sorry. I ALWAYS read under the cover with a flashlight :) Almost every night!

Ellen Booraem

My parents were anal about bedtimes, and I absolutely read under the covers with a flashlight. I swear. Really. I don't remember it being that hard if you were lying on your side.

Nowadays, if I wake up in the middle of the night and don't want to wake The Man, I read with an LLBean headlamp, and it's true that would have been much, much easier.


I remember *trying* to as a kid, because it seemed like I ought to. It got stuffy in a hurry under there. From then on if I read with a flashlight, I did it outside the covers! (I grew up in earthquake country, so each of us had a flashlight under the bed in case we had an earthquake at night. I'm not sure it makes sense, but it's what we did.)

Jess S.

If I did, it was because I read about other nerdy kids in books doing it. More likely: I opened my curtains and strained my eyes. I was one of those kids who gave grown-ups headaches because I would read by the tiniest glimmer of light (driving home from my grandmother's late at night on the dark highway, I would hold my book open and stare at it till a car passed us and I could read a snippet by the headlights.)

Betty Birney

I never read in bed with a flashlight. I'm sure some did and others might just imagine they did. In my family, we all read in our respective beds every night. When I was learning to read, I'd call into my parents' bedroom and spell a word and my dad would call back to me with the word and we all kept on reading. I do remember walking around the house while I read and I bumped into furniture sometimes - ouch!


Dear Lois,

I did indeed read with a flashlight as my bedtime was 9:00. My mother confirms this is true and that she had to keep confiscating it. I did not however read under the covers (perhaps that is why I was caught so often). I turned on my side and lifted the pillow ever so slightly to position the flashlight and help to keep the book open.

You are one of my favorite authors of all time! I love reading snippets of your thoughts. Thanks for sharing them with your readers.

Alison Dorman

I never read with a flashlight, but I may have tried to use the streetlight directly outside my window. We have them around in case of emergencies like earthquakes (we're in New Zealand but not Christchurch thankfully), so my 6 year old uses one. It doesn't occur to her to use it under the covers though; she sits up in bed reading with it lying next to the book, shining onto the page.


When I was five or six, we could not afford a flashlight, or books. We kept a sealed box of Encyclopedia Britannica tomes that had been sent to us by my father from England, but we were not allowed to touch them in fear that we'd tear them up. Nevertheless, we (actually it was just me) would go under the bed with an inch-size piece of a candle (!!!) at night, pry open the box, unwrap a book quietly ( they came sealed in cellophane) and thumb through the pages in awe. Mostly looking at the pictures. The books were written in English and I could only read Spanish.



I never read with a flashlight either, because like you said I couldn't get my hands on one. However, I definitely read when I was supposed to be sleeping nearly every night; I just waited a few minutes and then turned on the large lamp beside my bed, somehow believing that my parents wouldn't notice the light streaming under the door (they almost always did). Then again, a large floor lamp is a lot harder to confiscate than a flashlight, so maybe it wasn't completely crazy...

Becky Levine

Now you made me think. I don't actually remember the flashlight or even staying up later than I was allowed to read. I know there WAS bedtime. I think I must have made up for it all by spending every other free hour of the day with a book. :)


I also remember trying it because characters in books always did it, and found it way too stuffy and uncomfortable. I did read with a flashlight outside of the covers occasionally, but generally got in trouble when my parents found out. :)


I don't think I read with a flashlight under the covers as a child either. I had a lamp and don't remember being told to turn off the lights while reading every night. I guess because my mother was also reading in her bed. I have used a flashlight to read by as an adult. Very hard to balance the flashlight and hold the book at the same time. I prefer my book light; when I can find it.


I am at summer camp in Wisconsin with my son's Boy Scout troop and have been reading Hunger Games by flashlight. I can only muster a couple of pages before I fall asleep but I remember reading by flashlight as a kid. My parents had a strict lights out policy - or at least my dad did... I remmeber stuffing a towell under the crack in the door and still getting caught. One night I thought I was clever and used the red filter and you guessed it I got caught and had my flashlight confiscated. I don't think it was about the reading as much as it was I should have been sleeping and it was a control thing... but yeah, I read by flashlight as a kid, and still do. I am just grateful for the camping flashlight you can strap to your head!

Kat D.

I definitely read with a flashlight! And now, and my heart gives a grateful leap for this, I catch my son reading by the light of his handheld games if he can't find a flashlight.


Reading with my whole body completely under the covers always got too hot. I used to lie on my side with the covers up to my shoulders, place the book just under the covers, and train the flashlight on it that way. The covers functioned more like a giant lampshade than a tent.


I used a flashlight. Before I started staying up late to watch Dick Cavett, I was staying up late to read. It was a horribly uncomfortable thing to do, but seemed necessary. We went to midnight bookstore parties for two of the Harry Potter releases, and my son started reading by flashlight as soon as we got in the car; then we'd set up a tent in the living room and he'd continue reading by flashlight in the tent.


wow... i may be "a day late (or 3) & a dollar short" buti have throw in my personal experience.

i DID read under the covers... but rarely, b/c i was NOT supposed to. i can say that b/c i vividly remember reading Gone With The Wind for the 1st time when i was 10 & i got so wrapped up in it i could not lay that big honkin' book down for long. and since i did (& still do) hate, w/ a passion, stopping in the middle of a paragraph... plus i was never sleepy @ bedtime (normal?) & so i snuck (sneaked?) a tiny light into bed w/ me. i even put it under the covers & got out of the bed to determine if you still see the the light. i mistakenly thought i was being slick here. well over an hour later my mother whipped the covers back simultainously scaring me half to death & she glared the glare that only a mother can glare. i thought i was in for it so i snapped off the lite, closed the book, gathered my covers and flopped back on the pillow. she stormed out w/o a word. leaving me to lay there w/ a heart beating like a jack-rabbit in my throat... waiting for her to return, which she didn't. she told me years later that when she saw the panniced, remorseful look on my face she didn't have the heart to punnish me. then when i was just a tad older she modified the reading-in-bed rules to my have a set bed-time, but not a "lights-out" time if i was reading... which i adored and still seem to hold to over 20 yrs later.

oh - p.s. i love your writing.

Lois Lowry

I haven't officially tabulated the votes, but I think I lose. The flashlights outnumber the no-flashlights.


Ha! Agreed. The only people I knew who read with a flashlight under the covers were people in books -- i.e., fictional people.

Ron McCutchan

No flashlight user here--I think I may have tried it on car trips (I remember coming home from my grandparents one Christmas with the complete Chronicles of Narnia and doing the "read by passing headlights" trick), but I have always liked a good light when I read.

Karen Gold

I did read by flashlight, but I have to admit I didn't do it for long. My mother caught me and put an old floor lamp by my bed (one of those black metal-rod lamps with a white shade with black squiggles on it, from the fifties, which was when this was!) She told me if I couldn't sleep, I should turn on the light and read, and not just lie there.

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