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[Susan notes: This is said so well, in such a perfect manner of comparison, that it must be read to be totally appreciated.]

Submitted to Los Angeles Times but not published

To the editor

According to the LA Times ("A small problem growing,"

Feb. 12) because of nutritional deficiencies, North

Koreans are not as tall as South Koreans. The North

Korean prime minister has recommended stretching

exercises for children as a means of making them

taller. He must have been inspired by No Child Left

Behind and the National Reading Panel. Their approach

is also to stretch children by artificial (and

painful) means. Children of poverty read less well

than children of high-income families because they

have less access to print. Instead of providing more

print (e.g. better school and public libraries in

high-poverty areas), No Child Left Hehind prescribes

(and demands) skill-building: e.g. phonics,

vocabulary, and reading comprehension exercises. Just

like stretching, it is painful, and just like

stretching, it doesn’t work. Korean children need

better nutrition. Children of poverty with little

access to books need better access to books. There is

no substitute.

Saying that we must insist on skills because children

just won’t read is like saying hungry children just

won’t eat. But studies clearly show that given

interesting and comprehensible reading material,

nearly all children find reading pleasant and

eventually read.

Stephen Krashen

Stephen Krashen

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