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Originally published Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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The Reader's View

The readers' due

School-library cutbacks are in the spotlight thanks to a recently created coalition of citizens and educators ["School-library backers try...

Special to The Times

Today: A good book is easy to find

School-library cutbacks are in the spotlight thanks to a recently created coalition of citizens and educators ["School-library backers try every trick in book," Times, Local News, Dec. 24]. This is a movement I was delighted to join. Libraries, technology and skilled librarians help kids become readers.

We have plenty of evidence that libraries work. Researchers note the multiple benefits, and details can be found at the coalition's Web site, www.fundourfuturewashington.org. But most important, libraries foster the development of readers.

Access to libraries has been shown to make a difference in student achievement, and perhaps more of a difference than any other factor, suggests researcher Jeff McQuillan. His analysis shows that access to books in libraries and at home is a strong predictor of NAEP scores. Professor emeritus Stephen Krashen notes that this makes sense: The presence of a credentialed librarian means better collections, better use of the library to support instruction and more reading for pleasure, all of which translate into superior literacy.

I am passionate about this issue because I am passionate about ensuring that all children are readers. As a first-grade teacher, I knew that getting all children to read was my most important task. As a leader of the National Council of Teachers of English, I knew that teachers across the country were striving to help students gain access to libraries and technology, and that in an era of decreasing funding, these teachers are increasingly frustrated. And as a citizen, I know that all students in the state deserve access to a school library that is well-resourced and staffed so that every child has the greatest opportunity to succeed.

I urge all citizens to support efforts to make school libraries a basic educational right in our state.

Kathryn Egawa of Seattle is a charter member of Washington Coalition for School Libraries and Information Technology.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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