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All you need is…books. August 5, 2010

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, teaching.
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As a bit of a follow-up to my post the other day on summer programs, there was an article in the NY Times discussing a study done in Florida on summer reading.

The study allowed low-income kids to browse spring book fairs and choose 12 books to take home for the summer. Giving another set of kids activity books for the summer provided a control group. The cost to each student was approximately $50 (although I’m not clear if that was per year or overall), and the study continued for 3 years.

Children who had received free books posted significantly higher test scores than the children who received activity books. The effect, 1/16th of a standard deviation in test scores, was equivalent to a child attending three years of summer school, according to the report to be published in September in the journal Reading Psychology. The difference in scores was twice as high among the poorest children in the study.

You see, the difference is apparently that they were able to choose what they wanted to read. Novel concept. Very few of the choices involved classical literature. In fact, the most popular book the first year of the program was a Britney Spears biography. And despite this, they managed to keep pace without having to go to school.

I’m amused because I know some people who follow the ‘unschooling’ method of homeschooling, and this is their entire philosophy: kids will learn what they want to, so your job as a parent is to enable their learning.

Regardless, I feel a lot less guilty about buying books like, “Little Women and Werewolves,” for the older boy.

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