Programs that provide free books to children of low-income families seem to have positive effects on children’s learning, reading behavior, and attitudes toward reading, according to a new research review.
Working under contract to Reading Is Fundamental, a nonprofit national book-distribution group based in Washington, researchers pared down roughly 11,000 studies to 27 of the most rigorous. Of those studies, a majority dealt with students in preschool and kindergarten. The rest of the studies involved students in the remaining elementary years, middle school, and high school.
The review found that, compared with demographically similar nonparticipants, students who took part in book-distribution programs by and large were significantly more motivated to read, were more likely to say they enjoyed reading, and tended to read more often. The students also had stronger emerging literacy skills and, for students old enough to be tested in reading, higher performance in that area. The study was conducted by Learning Point Associates, an affiliate of the Washington-based American Institutes for Research.
A version of this article appeared in the September 29, 2010 edition of Education Week as Book Giveaways