Free reading: Still a great idea
Stephen Krashen

Free voluntary reading, or recreational reading, is the most powerful tool we have in language education. Those who read more read better, write better, have larger vocabularies, and have better control of complex grammatical constructions. There is, in addition, evidence showing that readers know more and are generally considered to be interesting people. There is even evidence that recreational reading can help prevent memory loss as we get older.

If reading is so effective, how can we encourage it? Contrary to claims made by several companies, there is no evidence that rewards lead to more reading.

Because reading is so intrinsically pleasant, reading itself is a powerful means of encouraging more reading, and discussion of literature, including stories and read-alouds, promote more reading.

The most important factor in encouraging reading is providing access to books: There is strong evidence that more access to books results in more reading, and hence more literacy development. Children of poverty have only one possible source of books: Libraries.