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[Susan notes: Thank you, Steve, for rebutting this terrible news item. The intensive strategies will ruin a generation of readers. Reading strategies are not the same as reading. Far from it.]

Submitted to St. Petersburg Times but not published

To the editor

Re: To pump up reading, schools cut back fun (July 29)

Instead of “overwhelming students with reading

strategies” and a “take-no-prisoners” approach to

reading, how about trying the obvious instead:

Improving school and local libraries and giving

students some time to read for pleasure?

Study after study shows that providing more access to interesting and comprehensible reading results in more reading, more reading results in better reading, better writing, larger vocabulary, and better spelling. Studies also have shown a positive relationship between the quality of school libraries and tests on reading tests.

The children who score the lowest on reading tests are always children of poverty, those who have the least access to books in their lives. Improving school library quality in low-income neighborhoods should be the first step we take in helping children read better.

There is another advantage to this approach: Children like it. Ninety minutes a day of intensive instruction on “reading strategies” is not only less effective than reading RL Stine, JK Rowling, Nancy Drew, Judy Blume, and Madeleine L'Engle, it is also much less interesting.

Stephen Krashen

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