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[Susan notes: Steve combines good research with realistic suggestion of what is needed.]

Published in USA Today

To the editor

Research on reading supports Patrick Welsh's view ("How Schools are Destroying the Joy of Reading": August 4). Reading truly compelling books and stories is the way to encourage more reading and, ironically, will result in higher test scores than assigning bland texts that focus on “skills.”

There is no evidence, however, that today's young people are less interested in reading than previous generations. University of Minnesota researchers Darwin Hendel and Roger Harrold recently reported that college students are spending less time reading newspapers than they did 30 years ago, but book reading has not declined, and students spend more time reading books than they do watching TV, going to parties and going to the movies. Other studies show that non-book reading (e.g. blogs, graphic novels) has increased among young people.

Studies also show that when young people have access to good reading material, they really do read. The problem is that children of poverty do not have access to good reading at home, in their communities and even at school. Welsh's sensible recommendations need to be supplemented with an increased investment in school and public libraries, especially in high-poverty areas.

Stephen Krashen, professor Emeritus, UCLA

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