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Anti-testing Letters

[Susan notes: Newspapers love to report that kids aren't reading. We are lucky to have Stephen Krashen to offer solid, research-based refutation.]

To the editor

From Stephen Krashen

Submitted to Green Bay Press-Gazette but not published (11/12/2012)

I am a cross-over reader, an adult who loved Harry Potter and Hunger Games. But it isn’t true that Books like 'Hunger Games' make reading cool again, (Nov. 12). Contrary to popular opinion, reading has always been cool. Teenagers today spend about the same amount of time reading as they did in 1946. Current data on reading includes reading from the internet, but book reading has not declined: In 1946, according the Book Manufacturers' Institute, 34% of teen-agers said they read a book yesterday; in 2005, according to a Pew report, 33% did.

The real problem in encouraging reading is that those who live in poverty have little access to books: they have few books at home, live in neighborhoods with lower quality libraries and few bookstores, and attend schools with lower quality classroom and school libraries. In most cases, their only chance to get access to books is the library. Research consistently confirms that library quality is related to reading achievement, but support for libraries has declined.

If we want to make sure all young readers have access to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Hunger Games, school and public libraries, especially in high-poverty areas, need better support.


Sources:

No decline in reading:
Link, H. & Hopf, H. (1946). People and books: A study of reading and book-buying
habits. New York: Book Manufacturers’ Institute.
Roberts, D., Foehr, U., & Rideout, V. (2005). Generation M: Media in the lives of 8 to 18 year-olds. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation.
Poverty and access to books:
Neuman, S., and D. Celano. 2001. Access to print in low-income and middle-income
communities. Reading Research Quarterly 36(1): 8-26.
Libraries and reading achievement:
Lance, K. C. The Impact of School Libraries on Student Achievement. http://www.lrs.org/impact.php
Krashen, S., Lee, SY., and McQuillan, J. 2012. Is the library important? Multivariate studies at the national and international level. Journal of Language and Literacy Education, 8(1)? 26-36.


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