Thursday, November 7, 2013

Investment in libraries can fill the great literacy void.

Re: Christopher Lloyd, "True stories can fill the great literacy void" (Nov. 7).

I would like to recommend some nonfiction reading in reaction to Mr. Lloyd's call for more nonfiction reading: Research on literacy development.
Research tells us that young people who are dedicated pleasure readers typically choose more different kinds of reading and more complex reading as they mature, including more nonfiction.  And research also tells us that in order to become a dedicated pleasure reader, young people need to have access to reading material that they really want to read. This is confirmed by studies done in several different countries showing that access to libraries is related to reading achievement.
Children of poverty typically have the lowest scores on reading tests, and typically have little access to books. For many, the library is the only place they can find interesting reading material.
Mr. Lloyd is right when he says that nonfiction can be exciting, and he is right that readers should themselves select a great deal of what they read, but the path to reading quality nonfiction and quality fiction begins with making sure all potential readers have access to books. 
Let's change National Non-Fiction Day to International Library Day.

Stephen Krashen

Some sources:

Reading tastes develop: L. LaBrant, 1958, “An evaluation of free reading.”  Hunnicutt and Iverson (Eds.), Research in the Three R’s. Harper and Brothers.

Access: Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Heinemann and Libraries; Unlimited.
Neuman, S. & Donna Celano, D. 2001. Access to Print in Low-Income and Middle-
Income Communities: An Ecological Study of Four Neighborhoods. Reading Research
Quarterly 36 (1): 8–26.

Libraries and reading achievement: Krashen, S., Lee, SY., & 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. Lance, Keith Curry. 2004. “The Impact of School Library Media Centers on Academic Achievement.” In School Library Media Annual, edited by Carol Kuhlthau, 188–97. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Lance, K.& Helgren, J. 2010. “The Impact of School Libraries on Studenr Achievement: Exploring the School Library Impact Studies.”

Impact of self-selected reading: Lee, S.Y. 2007. Revelations from three consecutive studies on extensive reading. RELC Journal 38 (2), 150-170.

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