Book Deserts, Reading & Access

For decades, research has shown that access to books — separate from poverty and other aspects of children’s lives — has a huge effect on literacy. A 2016 study also found that concentrated poverty goes hand-in-hand with scarcity of children’s books. In particular, researchers found an enormous disparity between access to children’s books in the Anacostia and Capitol Hill neighborhoods of Washington, DC:

“[In] Anacostia, 830 children would have to share a single age-appropriate book, while only two children would need to share a book in the borderline neighborhood of Capitol Hill.”

Anacostia is considered “high-poverty” (poverty rate of 40% or higher), while Capitol Hill is “borderline” (poverty rate of 18-40%).

Read more about the NYU study of book deserts.

More coverage —
The Atlantic: “Where Books are Non-Existent.”
US News: Fostering Literacy by Eliminating Book Deserts

See also related story —
Kojo Nnamdi show: “Free Book Vending Machines

Access to books is related to children’s vocabulary and many other elements in development of literacy and enjoyment of reading. Literacy in the early grades is linked, in turn, to better outcomes for students in the short- and long-term. Read more on this and related topics on this site.

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