Stephen Krashen has already written about this for some time, but here is another study that shows a strong correlation between books in the home Here is the money quote: "This research was conducted in 27 countries (of every economic level and every political persuasion) over a 20 year period. These scientists made comparisons of families using a range of criteria and then statistically matched those up with the records of school success of the family’s children. As it turns out, the single best predictor of school success was the number of books in the home."
And this robust research is exactly the kind we need to pass on to administrators and school boards along with a request for RIF funds or funding to send books home with kids over the summer to help prevent the summer "slide." If every single school would obtain the funding to send books home to kids, especially to those homes where books are not present already, imagine what might happen.
Just last week, a student asked how they could better reward kids who were their top readers. Currently, the school used gift cards to movie theaters in the area. There are no bookstores nearby. I let pass the rewarding of top readers (should have pointers said student to Alfie Kohn and missed that teachable moment, darn!), but I made several suggestions including getting wish lists from those students and purchasing books for them to take home. If funds were an issue (and they always are, are they not?), I also suggested asking each child to select some of her or his favorites from the library collection and then inserting a plate indicating the book was "donated" by the student. That costs almost nothing but might mean something in the long run.
We have to find ways to get books into the hands of kids if we want them to be readers. Surely, we can find some way go make this a priority if not for this summer than for next?
And, one more idea. As I am writing this post, my iPod is growing its audiobook collection by two new FREE titles. This week the titles are THE TIME MACHINE and TIME WARP. They are free to anybody. Go here: www.audiobooksync.com and get yours. Ask kids to bring their iPods and download audio for them, too. Two free audiobooks a week for the entire summer. Spread the word!