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[Susan notes: This is a great letter, emphasizing that NCLB ignores research on encouraging children to read. We should flood newspapers where this program is operating with similar letters.]

Submitted to Rapid City Journal but not published

To the editor

South Dakota needs to take a closer look at the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Summer Reading Achievers program ("Reading initiative aims to stanch summer brain drain," April 9). Here are the details of the program: Encourage reading by requiring children to read ten books over the summer, only allow "age-appropriate books," require book reports, and give prizes to those who complete the assignment.

None of this is supported by the research. In fact, requiring reading, restricting choice in reading, requiring book reports and giving out rewards for reading are fine ways to extinguish interest in reading. When we reward an activity that is already pleasant, we send the message that it is not pleasant, that nobody would do it without a bribe.

NCLB shows no special interest in doing what is firmly supported by research: Make sure books are available by improving public and school library services during the summer, and make sure the real experts are available, those who know children's reading interests and children's literature: librarians.

It is ironic that those in charge of organizing reading programs have not read the research on how to encourage reading.

Stephen Krashen

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