Read because you want to

Editor:

“Literacy at the Library” (March 18) tells us that the Santa Monica Public Library offers a truly astonishing menu of programs and services: tutoring, story-time, classes, films, etc.
Buried deep in the article is the library’s most valuable contribution: Books for pleasure reading. In hundreds of scientific reports, our research over the last 40 years has confirmed that recreational reading, or “reading because you want to” is by far the best way to improve reading ability, writing ability, vocabulary, grammar, and even spelling. Research also shows that those who do more pleasure reading know more about history, and science, and even have more practical knowledge.
Contrary to the recent push for nonfiction in the schools, researchers from the UK recently reported that reading fiction was a better predictor of vocabulary size than reading non-fiction, and that reading at any age boosts vocabulary knowledge.
All the programs offered by the library are valuable, but it needs to be emphasized that the Santa Monica Library has a very good book collection. For many families, especially those with limited means, the library is the only source of reading material.

Stephen Krashen
Malibu