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[Susan notes: Yes! Thank you, Steve Krashen, for keeping up the push for access to reading material.]

Published in Newsweek

To the editor

Newsweek has done us a service in revealing problems

boys have in school (“The book on boys,” January 30).

It should be noted, however, that factors other than

gender are much more important.

Girls, to be sure, typically score higher on

standardized tests of reading in elementary school,

but the most important factor in predicting reading

scores is how much self-selected voluntary reading

children do.

A number of studies show that children of poverty have

very little access to reading material at home, in

their communities, and at school. As a result, they

read much less and their reading scores are much lower

than those of children from higher income families.

The difference in reading scores between children from

high- and low-income families is much larger than the

difference in reading scores between boys and girls.

We should indeed be concerned about gender

differences, but we should also take care of the

obvious. The obvious is to make sure all children have

access to good reading material. This means a serious

investment in school and public libraries, especially

in high poverty areas.

Stephen Krashen

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