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[Susan notes: Good points, as usual. The core of the problem presented in the article lies at the core of Advanced Placement courses and other pushes to raise standards, not in free reading versus literature study.]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published

To the editor

Re: Odds stacked against pleasure reading, May 24

The Post is correct in reporting that self-selected recreational reading has a powerful effect on literacy development. Children who read more show superior development in reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, and have better control of complex grammatical structures.

But the Post makes a false dichotomy in contrasting free reading and literature study. When done correctly, the study of literature is a powerful means of promoting intellectual development. Literature is applied philosophy, covering ethics (how are we supposed to live?) and metaphysics (why are we here?) in ways that are often not possible by other means. In addition, a well-taught literature class should result in more voluntary reading by students.

The problem that the Post describes is poor literature teaching, the use of inappropriate texts and overly pedantic approaches.

Stephen Krashen

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