From the “duh” department:
For one class, researchers ran a book fair, where each student picked 13 books to take home at the end of the school year. The fair featured a broad range of selections — fiction and nonfiction, classics and newer works — and students eagerly passed the books back and forth, reveling in the opportunity to pick those matching their personal interests while chattering with one another about familiar stories. (An adaptation of Disney’s “Frozen” was especially popular.) Many also chose works considerably above or below their reading levels so they could share with siblings.
The other class of students received books by mail from the already-in-place community program.
Both classes were given literacy tests before summer vacation and again when they returned in the fall. Sure enough, the students who chose their own books did better, improving from the previous summer. Those in the community program showed no improvement.
A follow-up study involved six classes, with a total of 87 students, and compared those who selected all of their summer books with those who chose some of their own books, while educators picked the rest. There was no significant difference between the two groups. Seventy-five percent of the students either maintained or improved their reading levels over the summer, which is much better than typically expected.
There are some frightening stats in there, such as, “students living in poverty who cannot read proficiently by third grade are 13 times less likely to graduate from high school.” So let kids choose their own books!