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[Susan notes: This letter builds on something noteworthy in the article, always a good technique.]

Submitted to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel but not published

To the editor

Reading: Let's Improve School Libraries

Alan Bursok gives us some good advice ("Don't we get it? Reading is Fundamental," April 26): Yes, let's restart the reading war. And yes, let's see what is going on elsewhere. But let's also examine what is known about how children learn to read.

Research (and common sense) tell us that heavy phonics programs only help children do better on tests in which they have to pronounce words out-loud. They have very little impact on tests in which children have to understand what they read.

Research also tells us that the children who do better on tests of reading comprehension are those who have more access to books and who read more. Studies consistently show that better school libraries, those with better collections and with a credentialed librarian are related to higher reading scores.

What this means for Milwaukee is that any reading plan has to involve improving school libraries. This is especially important in high-poverty areas, where the school library is often the only source of books for children.

Bob Peterson & Stephen Krashen

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