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[Susan notes: Stephen Krashen is librarians' greatest advocate, as we all should be. ]

Submitted to Greenville News (SC) but not published

To the editor

Education officials hope new reading program will put students on track to success (Sept. 21) does not mention the one essential ingredient in all programs aiming to improve literacy: Access to interesting books.

There is massive evidence that self-selected reading, or reading what you want to read, is responsible for most of our literacy development. Readers have better reading ability, know more vocabulary, write better, spell better, and have better control of complex grammatical constructions. In fact, it is impossible to develop high levels of literacy without being a dedicated reader, and dedicated readers rarely have serious problems in reading and writing.

The real problem in literacy development is providing access to books. For many children of poverty, the only place they have access to books is the library.

A number of scientific studies have confirmed that better school libraries mean higher reading scores.

A strong school library run by a credentialed librarian is the core of all successful literacy programs.

Stephen Krashen

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