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Reading & Literacy Letter to the Editor

Debate Over Free Reading in Schools Dates Back Decades

October 21, 2014 1 min read
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To the Editor:

The Curriculum Matters blog post “N.Y.C. Chancellor Pushes for Schools to Reinstate Independent Reading Time” states that there has been “little media attention” given to the issue of free reading in school. There has, however, been a great deal of attention paid to this question in professional educational publications.

Contrary to the conclusions of the National Reading Panel in 2000, study after study supports the practice of sustained silent reading in school. Some of my responses to the panel were published in Education Week, and others appeared in the Phi Delta Kappan and Reading Today. I also discussed the panel’s errors in the book The Power of Reading (2004).

In short, the panel missed many studies and in my view misreported several others. In my first response to the panel, published in the Phi Delta Kappan in 2001, I reported that sustained silent reading, or SSR, was as effective or more effective than comparison groups in 50 of 53 published comparisons, and in long-term studies, SSR was a consistent winner. Since then, quite a few more studies have been published supporting SSR in first- and second-language education.

Stephen Krashen

Professor Emeritus of Education

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, Calif.

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A version of this article appeared in the October 22, 2014 edition of Education Week as Debate Over Free Reading in Schools Dates Back Decades

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