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[Susan notes: I like this line: Why not try the obvious?]

Published in Chicago Tribune

To the editor

According to one principal, students need a longer school day so they can catch up in reading ("Chicago schools to begin longer days Monday," Jan 9). We can get much bigger gains spending less money and with much less work, with an approach that children will like a lot better than staying in school longer: Invest in libraries and librarians.

Studies show that children who do not do well on reading tests often have little access to books. Studies also show that increasing access to books through libraries increases how much reading children do, and more reading results in better reading, spelling, grammar, writing, and a larger vocabulary.

In our recent analysis of an international reading test given to fourth graders in 40 countries, we found that students who were given time to read in school and who had access to a good school library had higher scores, but more instructional time was associated with lower scores.

Why not try the obvious, an approach with substantial support in the research, before rushing to institute expensive, elaborate programs that have no research support?

Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus, USC

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