Published in the New York Times, September 20, 2018
To the Editor:
Re “Why libraries still matter.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/08/opinion/sunday/civil-society-library.html (Sunday Review, Sept. 90]
Not mentioned in Eric Klinenberg’s essay is the importance of libraries and books to school success.
Studies consistently show that children of poverty typically have low levels of literacy development. But research also shows that children of poverty have little access to books at home, in their neighborhoods and at school, and that increasing access to books and other reading material results in more reading.
Increasing reading increases vocabulary, increases the ability to read and write, and results in better grammar and better spelling.
The library is a major source of reading material for many children of poverty.
Our research, as well as the work of Keith Curry Lance, confirms that more investment in libraries and librarians means better language and literacy development, and that supporting libraries can help overcome the negative effect of poverty on literacy development and school success.