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[Susan notes: It is a very positive thing to get this letter published.]

Published in Chicago Sun-Times

To the editor

Strengthening school libraries is an easy and inexpensive way to improve school performance ("CPS board warned of drought of librarians," June 26). There is enormous evidence that self-selected pleasure reading is the source of much of our literacy development: Those who read more, read better, write better, spell better, have larger vocabularies and better grammar.

Most students in CPS live in poverty. Students who live in poverty are "behind" in reading because they have few books in their homes, live in neighborhoods with few bookstores and few good public libraries. Their only sure source of books is the school library. The importance of the school has been confirmed in study after study: Better school libraries with credentialed libraries mean higher reading scores. In our recent study, based on data from 40 countries, we found that access to a good school library was positively related to reading scores, and nearly offset the negative effect of poverty. In other words, school libraries and school librarians can help close the achievement gap.

Stephen Krashen, Rossier School of Education, USC

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