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[Susan notes: Three cheers for our international letter writer. Stephen's letters are so important, making research available to the general reader.]

Published in The Independent

To the editor

Commenting on the low quality of libraries in schools, David Bell stated that "children need books to read" and "the school library is often a primary source of reading material ...".

Not mentioned in The Independent's report is the fact that Mr Bell's opinion is backed up by a great deal of research. Studies done over many years both in the UK and the USA have consistently shown that children get a surprising percentage of their books from libraries.

More recent research has found a consistent and positive relationship between school library quality and the amount children read and how well they read.

Quality school libraries are especially important for children of poverty. Studies show that children of low-income families tend to live in neighbourhoods with inferior public libraries and few bookstores, and have few books in their homes. The first step in improving levels of literacy for these children is to improve school libraries.

Stephen Krashen

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