Wednesday, June 9, 2010

YSL4: Reading 2010

Some of us are now in attendance at the Reading 2010 YSL4 online conference where Dr Stephen Krashen, best known for his work on the importance of free voluntary reading, is a breath of fresh air in challenging the notions of reading that have underpinned the grand-scale initiatives to improve literacy in North American. I have introduced his interactive dialogue session, which I have the privilege to be moderating, as follows:

Krashen references his work [on reading] to signficant milestones in understanding the power of reading. His talks essentially provide support for ways that libraries can end all literacy issues forever. The most powerful tool in the literacy kit, supported by consistent research, is free voluntary reading .... Yet, ironically, even as, in Stephen's words, "We now have the best evidence we have ever had on the value of libraries and ... of recreational reading, libraries and free reading have never been in more trouble."

Wish you were there to read the world responding and to contribute. The irony is being felt here in Vancouver school libraries -- and elsewhere in BC -- in gut-wrenching ways. We thank you, Madame Minister of Education, for insights into ways to cut costs in education but the real social costs mean we are putting at risk the futures of our less privileged children in ways that are huge and life-changing. There is a strong correlation between juvenile delinquency and low literacy development, or so Jamie Graham, former Chief of Police here in Vancouver, and others would have us believe. There is a strong correlation between literacy development and poverty that is offset by there being strong, well-suppported school library programs that offer children choice in what they read. Or so Stephen Krashen would have us believe. I believe! Do you?

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