More Books, Not Phonics

On December 15, 2020, EducationWeek published an article titled “Students’ Reading Losses Could Strain Schools’ Capacity to Help Them Catch Up.” On January 11, 2021, they published a Letter to the Editor from Stephen Krashen, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. Krashen, a world-renowned reading researcher, argued that the article incorrectly advocated more phonics education to improve reading comprehension, when, in fact, research actually shows that what improves comprehension is letting students read materials of high interest to them.

In defense of this position, he cited his own research with Jeff McQuillan, his recent book with Christy Lao and Sy-Ying Lee–Comprehensible and Compelling: The Causes and Effects of Free Voluntary Reading–and my work with Debra E. Kachel. In particular, he called attention to our widely cited March 26, 2018 article in Phi Delta Kappan magazine, Why school librarians matter: what years of research tell us, a summary of the series of state school library impact studies that bridged the turn of the Millennium.

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